Closure of Surrey Connexions centres 'a scandal'

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Young people outside a job centre
Image caption,
Surrey County Council said it cost £55 a time for young people to visit a Connexions centre

The father of a regular user of Surrey's Connexions careers service has said the closure of its drop-in centres for young people is "scandalous".

Stuart Wylie, from Merstham, said he learned of the closure three weeks ago when he went to the Redhill office with his son, Ian, for advice about jobs.

"It is absolutely scandalous and short-sighted," he said.

Surrey County Council (SCC) said it could no longer afford to keep the drop-in offices open.

Connexions offers advice on careers, education, work and personal issues for young people aged 13 to 19.

The five free drop-in offices, in Epsom, Guildford, Redhill, Staines and Woking will close on Sunday.

Government cuts

The public service union, Unison said the closures would mean young people found it harder to find jobs, training and education.

"Our members working in Connexions and careers provide an unbeatable service," said spokesman Chris Leary.

"Without that service young people are going to find it even more difficult to find those opportunities."

Garath Symonds, SCC's assistant director for young people, said the drop-in centres were being closed because of government cuts.

"The centres were costing £700,000 a year. The average cost of a young person visiting a centre was £55 because footfall was so low," he said.

He said Connexions staff would still meet young people at schools, youth centres and colleges.

"These things will still go on, but we can't afford any more to spend £700,000 on buildings that don't get used very much."

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