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Council shake up to save £3m puts 100 jobs at risk

By Katia Harston, Chief Reporter Wednesday 30th January 2013

Children's centres, youth clubs and business centres could close and up to 100 jobs be put at risk under new proposals to save the authority more than £3 million.

 

Barnsley Council has approved a recommendation to restructure its Children, Young People and Families department, with a final decision being made on February 28.

 

The cuts are part of the council's programme to reduce its budget and it is looking to make savings in services for vulnerable children and young people; commissioning and co-ordinating children's services; and raising standards and aspirations in schools and early years.

 

A report outlines where £3,348,000 of savings can be made.

 

It shows more than 63 posts could be affected, 11 voluntary severances, 18 potential compulsory redundancies, ten voluntary early retirements and 23 vacant posts would be deleted.

 

The largest single cut proposed is £1.68m from Integrated Youth Support Services to close a number of the town's 15 youth clubs, as well as reducing opening hours and days of the remaining clubs. None of those being considered for closure have been named.

 

It would also mark the end of the Out of Hours Learning Network in April, which offers borough-wide support and activities for kids aged eight to 13.

 

The authority is also hoping to save £291,000 in its Business Support Services department by reducing staff.

 

Provision for community learning centres and business centres will also be reviewed and could include the closure, or sale, of three business centres at Thurnscoe, Athersley and Grimethorpe, saving £450,000.

 

Ian Ball is project manager for Hickleton Youth Project which has 250 kids on the books and is based at Thurnscoe Business Centre, Princess Drive.

 

He has worked with children and young people for 30 years, and said while the youth project is independent of the council and not at risk, the centre where it is based is under threat.

 

He said: "We are aware of the council's proposals and it is a concern for us. The final decision is at the end of February and we are a bit scared as it's all up in the air.

"If the council is going to keep shutting youth clubs like they are, just like they did four or five years ago, the local crime rates will likely go up, as they did before, and kids will have nowhere to go."

 

Under the proposals all 19 of Barnsley's children's centres would have their operational budgets cut by five per cent, about £15,000 per centre.

 

A review of children's centres started last year and will continue into 2013/14. While closures will not take place this year, the report says they may be necessary in 2014/15. Overall it would save £570,000.

 

The total savings proposed for the safeguarding children and young people department is £350,000. It will mainly involve deleting posts and reorganising staffing rotas in children's homes.

 

The report states 'great care is being taken' to ensure the savings do not impact on front line services for those in care, at risk of abuse or neglect, disabled children or those with special educational needs.

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