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Camden New Journal - Letters to the Editor
Youth projects will be crippled by cuts

• IT is not as if Lib Dem Councillor John Bryant who ‘signed off’ the cuts to youth projects across the borough, is inexperienced (Don’t slash our cash! June 15).
He has carpet-bagged his way across several councils, and has been in Camden long enough to know that his cuts list is a roll call of the very best youth provision in Camden,.
Cllr Bryant’s feeble response is that he was merely rubber-stamping the ‘audit’ by officers, an excuse on a par with the hand-washing of Pontius Pilate!
As the Executive Member for Children, he should have had the good sense to knock this back for further discussion. I can recall that, on coming into office as the Chairman of Education in 1990, I was presented with a similar list of youth cuts to endorse, and I simply smiled and said “think again, Camden is a Labour authority”.
As one of the four trustees at Coram’s Fields I am appalled at the wholly unprofessional way this alleged ‘audit’ was carried out, with no prior consultation, no warning of any alleged deficiencies in the programme, no due process, and no opportunity to make representations or have a review.
With the summer upon us this is the essential time for youth provision.
Now that protests have produced the allegedly ‘transparent and rigorous’ way in which this cuts exercise was carried out by junior officers, we can see that one of the criteria Coram’s Fields ‘failed’ on was that we do not provide youthwork in school term-time – a time when one would have hoped our young people were actively encouraged to be in school or college.
This recurring annual bid for £35,000 is absolutely essential for the youth programme at Coram’s Fields, a deservedly nationally recognized centre of excellence for children – and the vital ‘backyard’ for every young person in the neighbourhood.
The area south of the Euston Road has many challenges for its families – but the chief one now is that a Lib Dem councillor simply failed the easiest of early political tests and was ‘bounced’ into inflicting reckless and senseless cuts to our youth provision.
(Lab) Town Hall
Judd Street, WC1

• We are extremely concerned about the impact of the potential reduction of youth club provision in Gospel Oak.
Following our deputation from the Queen’s Crescent Community Association (QCCA) to the council meeting on Monday, the responsible executive member, John Bryant, is prepared to review the situation.
He has agreed to meet with us and other voluntary providers in the area.
We hope there can be a satisfactory solution as we are particularly worried that the usual summer youth project will not take place.
Apparently the decisions to redirect funding did not take into account the levels of youth crime and disorder in any given area. Nor did decisions take into account the amount of additional funding raised by a voluntary organisations which would have supplemented the council’s grant. In our case this is over £30,000 per year which could be lost unless it is matched by council funding.
There is a degree of urgency as the decisions are due to be implemented at the end of this month and summer projects should start in six weeks time. Instead of taking resources out of our youth service in Gospel Oak, we need to be putting in more.
But we also need to make sure that Camden’s youth service in Gospel Oak is a lot more effective and imaginative in reaching the most difficult kids and really providing things for them to do. Similarly the Gospel Oak Partnership needs to play its part in coordinating and expanding activities.
The tragedy is that the facilities are here – the Heath, the Roundhouse, Talacre Sports Centre, football pitches, a gymnasium and Queen’s Crescent Community Association’s three centres.
The goodwill is here too in Gospel Oak with lots of ordinary people desperate to do things for young people.
Mick Farrant
Chairman, QCCA
Oak Village, NW5
Sally Gimson
Fleet Community Centre
Oak Village, NW5

• John Bryant’s comments about Coram’s Fields, Fitzrovia Youth in Action and the King’s Cross Brunswick Neighbourhood Centre in last week’s New Journal show his lack of knowledge about the valuable work carried out with young people in the borough.
All of these projects have an impressive track record of working with local young people, including some of the most disaffected groups and have been recognised for their good work nationally and locally.
Despite the progress which has been made in tackling crime and anti social behaviour in King’s Cross we have had problems with youth anti social behaviour over the summer in previous years. It is extremely worrying that at the beginning of yet another long hot summer, we find that the projects young people know and use locally are being cut.
The impact of the cuts on three organisations, working in the same geographical area will be devastating for the local community.
Political priorities are demonstrated by actions not words. It is telling that one of the first decisions taken by the new Lib Dem-Tory administration will be to cut these well- loved youth services provided by the voluntary sector in the south of the borough.
Cllr Geethika Jayatilaka
Cllr Jonathan Simpson
(Lab) Town Hall
Judd Street, WC1

• The Winchester Project in Swiss Cottage has also been told that its annual application for a youth grant has been cut from £80,000 last year to nothing (Youth cuts condemned, 15 June).
Like other projects, the decision came as a real shock to us. Having provided a youth club for many years, we were told we would not be getting the money to fund our youth workers with no notice other than a perfunctory one-page letter.
Every party – not least Cllr John Bryant’s Lib Dems – rightly made much of the need to provide young people with good youth facilities during May’s local elections.
It is a shame that barely weeks have passed from them taking control at the Town Hall for this type of work to be discarded. In fact, we have responded to a community’s need by running a very popular night for young Somalis, providing an alternative for them to hanging around on street corners and risk turning to crime.
I hope that we will be able to sit down with council officers, many of whom have been very supportive of ‘the Winch’ over the years, and work out a way forward. We are very happy to do what we need to improve or change our ways of working, but simply refusing our youth grant will only hurt the young people who rely on us.
Mike Katz
The Winchester Project
Winchester Road, NW3

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Camden New Journal, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to The deadline for letters is midday Tuesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld. Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.


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