A council proposal to loan £3 million to a charity, OnSide for the development of a swish ‘youth zone’ in Warrington is ‘the thin end of the privatisation wedge’, Unite, the country’s largest union, has warned.
Unite, which represents the youth and community workers employed by Warrington borough council, thinks that the money could be better spent in investing in existing youth projects which have been hit by year-on-year cuts – another £150,000 is due to be shaved from the youth service budget in 2015/16.
Unite national officer for community and youth workers, Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe has written to the council leader Cllr Terry O’Neill asking for an urgent meeting to discuss the future of youth services in the Cheshire town.
Unite members and supporters will lobby the executive board meeting of the council on Monday (16 February) at Warrington town hall from 17.30 to make their views known.
Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: “There is one youth club and about a dozen youth projects around the borough in different locations already being provided with a budget below £1 million. We fear that if the council gives away £3 million these services, which cater for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, will be under threat.
“We are also concerned that the workforce, which would be employed by OnSide, won’t be covered by the local government national pay and conditions enjoyed by the 40 youth workers working for the council.
“We believe that OnSide is a charity with a corporate ethos that will appeal to more affluent young people, and not those living away from the centre of town where the youth zone will be situated in the former Mr Smith building. The council has not consulted young people about the proposed youth zone.
“Our members, who work with young people in Warrington, tell us they want local community venues with local youth workers who they can talk to and receive support – and not a youth zone that will isolate the most vulnerable.”
OnSide already operates youth zones in Blackburn, Carlisle, Manchester, Oldham and Wigan.
For further information please contact Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, Unite national officer on 07771 656692 and/or the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.
Notes to editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.