Opposition councillors criticise 'heartless' redundancies of Northumberland County Council youth workers

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Opposition councillors are calling for Northumberland County Council plans to make 12 youth workers redundant to be reversed.

It has emerged that two part-time youth workers and 10 part-time youth support workers, the equivalent in hours of three full-time staff members, will lose their jobs at the council, impacting Blyth, Seaton Valley, and the west of Northumberland.

The Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, and independents on the council have come out in opposition to the cuts and said the positions should remain, amid fears voluntary groups may have to turn young people away without the support.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Northumberland Labour leader Scott Dickinson said: “This only came to light after we were investigating why a youth worker in Blyth was being made redundant when members of staff started making contact with us.

Party leaders Scott Dickinson (left), Jeff Reid (centre), and Derek Kennedy (right) have criticised the redundancies.Party leaders Scott Dickinson (left), Jeff Reid (centre), and Derek Kennedy (right) have criticised the redundancies.
Party leaders Scott Dickinson (left), Jeff Reid (centre), and Derek Kennedy (right) have criticised the redundancies.

“Apparently the staff were told the council no longer requires a youth service because there is so much on offer from the private and third sector.

“The council is choosing to turn its back on a very vulnerable section of the people it serves.

“There is plenty of evidence about these services keeping young people away from antisocial behaviour and helping them make friends. In my view, this is a vital part of local authority work and should remain so.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Leader of the council’s Liberal Democrats, Jeff Reid, added: “This decision exposes the Conservatives to claims of hypocrisy.

“They claim that their top priority is to tackle inequality. When youth engagement is at the very core of a fair and equal society, cutting it is short-sighted, to say the least.”

Councillor Derek Kennedy, leader of the independent group, described the cuts as “heartless”. He said: “Young people will pay the price for the council’s short-sightedness.

“I know many families who rely on youth service provision. This just makes matters worse.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Youth groups, many of which are already struggling with the cost of living crisis, have warned that without funding to plug the gaps left by these cuts, service provision will have to be reduced.

Gemma Nixon, the manager of Prudhoe Youth Project, was not consulted by the council ahead of the cuts despite the organisation currently receiving six hours of youth worker support.

She said: “We have just weeks until they’re no longer working for Northumberland County Council.

“The impact it will have is huge. We rely on them to meet our current ratio.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Council Leader Glen Sanderson said: “We are absolutely committed to providing first class services for our children and young people.

"That is exactly why we’ve made these changes: to move forward to a new 21st century young people's offer with more activities, more safe spaces and more support that will tackle inequalities.

“In fact, we are spending £3 million pounds in the next three years to reshape services for our young people through our Family Hubs and we are proud to be one of 14 trailblazers nationally on this.

“We are also investing in brand new young people support workers which will be key in supporting our young people and their families.

“I am surprised by the comments made by opposition group leaders as these do not reflect the council’s complete commitment to delivering a youth service that is fit for the future.”