So which of Bexley Council’s many plonkers thought it necessary to send for
police protection because their main subject at Wednesday evening’s Cabinet
meeting was cutting Youth Services? Does it not sum up perfectly what Bexley Council
thinks of its younger residents and indeed the population at large?
The original of the photo below shows a helmet in the gloom on the right hand side…
…and the first of these shows a police jacket and badge underneath the street lamp.
Just what were Bexley Council thinking of? Themselves presumably.
The subject before Cabinet was the cut to youth services currently costing a total of £701k. and in the ever desperate quest to avoid the C word Bexley Council has designated it a Redesign.
At the outset Leader O’Neill said there had been a misunderstanding, a Review that had been commissioned said that the way the Youth Services are delivered should be changed and the only decisions reached so far “are to take away the small grants administered by the Scouts (£49,000) and Danson Youth Centre (£89,000) and to put the staff on notice”.
Miss Tiotto who is not very keen on publicity was forced to say a few words, most of them platitudes. “The redesign was to develop a much more closely aligned Youth Service. The decision results in a saving of £358,000.”
The Review had revealed that the services were appreciated “but the delivery is not underpinned by a clear vision”. It is not “best value for money.” She hoped that the Redesign will better help young people at risk and those about to embark on a life of crime. The cuts will commence at the end of March 2016. It would impact on 27 members of staff.
Cabinet Member Philip Read was asked to speak and he reiterated the tales of financial woe I have heard so many times before, but he had a new audience and he made a good job of it without any blame being attributed to the members opposite.
He said that resources would be focused on those most in need. The Redesign would be the most effective possible “within the funding available’. The target would be “anti-social behaviour and crime”. Perhaps it was Read who called the cops.
Labour Councillor Mabel Ogundayo had concerns that the message going out, I am paraphrasing massively here, was that you had to be anti-social or you wouldn’t be supported. She spoke up for those to be made redundant and criticised conducting the Review over just one summer month when potential contributors might be away.
Labour Leader Alan Deadman was concerned, paraphrasing again, that no one was sure what was going on and Leader O’Neill said that was because the Review merely said what they had been doing was not good value and now “we want to involve the young people in what the future is and we are starting to redesign the process. There are no preconceived ideas”.
It was all made to sound very reasonable but history has taught everyone that Bexley Council should not be trusted.
Jackie Tiotto was “convinced” that all was well and would be engaging with young people and parents.
Cabinet Member Linda Bailey asked if staff had already been told about the redundancies and the answer was that “all staff at risk had been told about a month ago”. Councillor Bailey wanted to know how the numbers could be known before the decisions were taken. I think the answer to that is obvious enough.
Councillor David Leaf stood to say he would close his ears to the “puerile comments” by members opposite causing everyone to look around them in puzzlement for anyone who may have opened their mouth. The only puerile comments recorded are Leaf’s own. Apart from that he just wanted to praise the Youth Services workers involved and he was “reassured” by Ms. Tiotto’s comments.
Cabinet Member for Education, John Fuller, commented that after school activities provided some alternative to the youth activities
Cabinet Member Philip Read closed the discussion by returning to the financial problems and put his points across in sombre tones befitting the dire situation, the contrast with Councillor Leaf making him appear almost statesmanlike. So Councillor Leaf does have a purpose after all; it’s to make everyone else look good.
The cuts were approved by the Cabinet’s unanimous vote.
There is a fairly comprehensive report in the News Shopper. Goodness! Don’t tell me that they are going to get back into the business of reporting council meetings, I’ll have to work even faster.