Discussion on changes to youth service
Members of Ponteland Town Council will meet with a Northumberland Youth Service worker in the near future to discuss the effects of a restructure.
Although the local authority formally approved the 2016/17 grant of £5,500 that was set aside in its budget at a recent meeting, concerns were raised by some councillors about the new set-up.
Since April, the service has been divided into former a coalfields section covering Ashington, Blyth, Bedlington and Amble, locations in the central and south east areas such as Morpeth, Cramlington, Ponteland and Seaton Valley, and the rural north and west of the county.
Coun Sue Johnson said: “I think Ponteland would be better off in the rural grouping, particularly as children from places like Belsay and Stamfordham attend the middle schools and high school.
“I have concerns about where the money will be spent in this new structure.”
Coun Richard Dodd – who is also a county councillor – said in his experience, designated rural areas don’t receive a lot of money when it comes to youth funding.
The recommendation to approve the grant was passed by a majority vote, but members also agreed to set up a meeting with the new head youth worker for Ponteland to discuss the new arrangements and find out more details about how the money will be spent.
A Northumberland County Council spokeswoman said: “The county’s youth service has been subject to a number of central government funding cuts in recent years.
“The council has attempted to reduce management and administrative costs without affecting front-line users and in fact has increased the num-ber of hours that youth workers spend with young people.”