Pledge to keep youth services running in Earby

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VOLUNTEERS at Earby’s New Road Community Centre have vowed they will keep it open and running despite there still being uncertainty over the full impact of the county council’s massive funding cuts.

Meetings have taken place this week between councillors and the Community Centre Association, as well as with users of the centre and the assistant head of Lancashire County Council’s Young People’s Services.

Chairman of the association David Hartley said he was feeling much more optimistic about the future of the centre.

“Cathy Ashworth, the assistant head of youth services attended a meeting to tell us the results of the review and the implications for the centre.

“We know now Young People’s Services are being withdrawn from the Earby premises.

“The satellite base will be at Barnoldswick, and Earby will be serviced by Barnoldswick staff one night a week. Barnoldswick will be covered three nights a week.

“Another arm of the council, as yet undecided, will take over the running costs of the building, the utilities and repairs which we think is around £40,000 a year.

“We understand the youth service staff will be offered voluntary redundancy or redeployed elsewhere, possibly at Barnoldswick. They said they hope there will be no compulsory redundancies.

“As it is, everything else continues as normal. We don’t want groups withdrawing from the centre.

“I feel a lot more positive than I was before the consultation began because it did seem then as if we might close completely. At least the building is secure.”

The shake-up of Young People’s Services in Pendle is the result of a report by County Hall bosses that said £8.4 million had to be found across Lancashire. Council chiefs said the department would be focusing on 13 to 19-year-olds in high-density and deprived areas.

The cuts have angered West Craven councillors and volunteers. Doris Haigh who has spent many years supporting the work of the community centre and is secretary of the centre’s association said she felt it was the wrong decision to remove youth services from being based at the centre.

She said: “I didn’t think front line services were going to be part of cut backs.

“The 13 to 19-year-olds are a vulnerable group. We have problems in Earby because it is quite a unique town in the way it is isolated from the rest of Pendle. I think it is a mistake to withdraw these services.”

At Pendle Council’s West Craven Committee meeting, Coun. David Whipp said he felt the county council had still not been totally forthcoming with full details on the future of both Barnoldswick and Earby’s youth centres.

He said he was particularly angry that Liberal Democrats on the council had not been invited to a meeting at the New Road centre, when Conservative councillors had been and asked for county Councillor Keith Bailey and Lancashire County Council to provide more details.

Coun. Whipp said: “County councillor Keith Bailey has said the costs of running the centre will be met by the county council so I would like to know what the costs they are meeting are.

“Are they the full costs? Will that mean staffing levels are maintained? The cost of maintaining and repairing the building?

“It was disgraceful the way these decisions were taken by the county council by a couple of people behind closed doors. It wasn’t made public until they issued a press release about it.”

Coun. Bailey said he would provide a full break down regarding the Barnoldswick and Earby centres within 10 days and the issue could be discussed further at the next area committee meeting.

Coun Bailey said: “The community centre is not going to close, in fact it is probably going to be even better than it was before. Hopefully we are going to relocate the library to the centre and the centre will be funded by a different part of the county council once youth services moves out. No group is going to lose out on somewhere to meet.”

Speaking at the community centre, Coun. Joyce Myers said she hoped people would understand that the community centre will continue as before for users.

“I’ve already heard of people looking to move their groups to other venues and we really don’t want this to happen.

“New Road Community Centre is a great central point for people to meet.”