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‘Community can save youth centre’

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 March 2014 | UPDATED: 17:12 18 March 2014

Cllr Stuart Hughes. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 3456-10-11AW

Cllr Stuart Hughes. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref shs 3456-10-11AW

Archant

SIDMOUTH’S county councillor is confident the community can help save the town’s youth centre after it was revealed such hubs could be shut by September if cost-cutting proposals become a reality.

Stuart Hughes says he has been hard at work preparing for the worst over the Manstone Lane venue – but is staying tight-lipped about what his plan entails.

Devon County Council needs to make £110million of cuts by 2017 and is looking for communities to come forward to take over the services.

A consultation meeting in Exmouth on Tuesday saw officers reveal all of the authority’s youth centres will be shut within six months if proposals go ahead.

“At the moment they are consulting – we can’t predict what will come out of it,” Councillor Hughes told the Herald.

“It is likely some of the youth centres will be closed. They are looking for local bodies to take on the facilities. I’m working in a positive way.”

Cllr Hughes says he has been ‘making strides’ towards finding a way of keeping the service offered to young people in Sidmouth – but cannot yet say what it is.

He added that Sidmouth Town Council puts £5,200 per annum into the youth centre to provide an extra night – and is certain the generous community can help provide any cash needed.

“I am quite confident as far as Sidmouth is concerned,” added Mr Hughes.

A county council spokesman said the need to save millions means it cannot afford to provide non-statutory services like universal youth clubs.

Staff and communities are being consulted over proposals to focus resources on helping the ‘most vulnerable’.

“This would also mean the withdrawal from running or managing local youth centres,” said the spokesman. “We are inviting people to come forward with ideas for services they could provide, possibly using our premises, for which some limited support may be available.”

A final decision is expected in May.

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