Anne Marron confirms the rising tide of concern at Newcastle City Council’s decimation of public provision for children, young people and communities. As the campaign against the closures gathers pace we hear that a youth club is to be set up on Northumberland Street, the main shopping avenue in the city and that a major demonstration is planned for the end of January.
Throughout December, since Newcastle City Council announced their proposal to cut 100% to the Youth and Play Services, and severe cuts to libraries, public arts and leisure facilities a group of committed and concerned young people, students, youth workers, council officers and academics have been meeting together initially under the banner of the ‘In Defence of Youth Work North East’ group.
People have shared their ideas, declared their commitments, expressed their concerns and explored many creative ideas for developing a campaign to challenge Central Government’s funding allocation and Newcastle City Council’s proposed cuts in services over the next 3 years. During the meetings there has been unanimous agreement for Newcastle City Council to be held accountable to local people for their proposal and to demand the creation of a budget based on the identified needs of local children, young people, their families and communities across the city and it’s neighbourhoods . The group felt overwhelmingly that the views of those people whose lives will be directly and disproportionately affected by the proposed cuts to services should be sought and the consultation made directly available and accessible, clear, and understandable. This would help to ensure that the consultation process reaches and includes all those concerned and that everyone has the opportunity to participate and exercise their democratic rights to inform and influence local decision making.
We will meet again in the New Year and continue taking these ideas forward in our bid to stop the cuts. The group named the campaign ‘SOS Save our Services’ and will work together over the coming weeks to ensure the council gives rightful consideration alongside local people, to the many alternatives. The ‘SOS Save our Services’ group recognises the importance of joining together with all those concerned about the threatened services to ensure a collective voice is heard in defence of good quality, affordable and effective services and that solidarity is shared amongst the various lobbies and campaigns sprouting up and gathering momentum across Newcastle.
During the meetings a clear and shared voice was heard; it spoke with enthusiasm, creativity and a commitment to developing and sustaining pride in the city of Newcastle and it’s neighbourhoods where our children, young people and communities are valued, encouraged and involved in developing a city where opportunities for employment, affordable formal and informal education, housing and well-being are prioritised and seen as a right for all.
We hope you can join us early in the new year, bring your ideas and help to develop the actions of the campaign. Dates of activities and next meeting will be posted soon.
Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas and abundance in Youth and Play Services in the New Year
Facebook page : https://www.facebook.com/groups/saveourservicestoon/