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Camden News - By SIMON WROE
Published: 3 September 2009
War of words in youth cuts row

Lib Dems’ leaflet sparks estate row

LIBERAL Democrat parliamentary hopeful Jo Shaw said yesterday (Wednesday) she can’t remember the last time she visited the council estate youth club her party is supposed to be saving from funding cuts.
She made the admission as she rubbished reports that tenants on the Maiden Lane estate had told the Lib Dems to stay away.
Ms Shaw, whose face appears on a Lib Dem leaflet telling tenants how the party is working to get funding for the estate’s youth club, said: “I really can’t remember the last time I was on it [Maiden Lane]. I can tell you categorically I was not on Maiden Lane last week. I certainly have never been kicked off it. No one has ever told me to leave the estate and no one has ever said to me they are unhappy about us being there.”
The opponent to Labour MP Frank Dobson in Holborn and St Pancras said she “did not know” whether she had been on the estate since the argument about community centre’s funding flared three weeks ago.
The issue has turned into a war of words between Camden’s politicians. Rivals say the Lib Dems should not be claiming to be fighting for funds as it was the Town Hall – run by the Lib Dems in partnership with the Tories – who divided up youth funding.
The first that many residents on the estate, in Camden Town, heard of a funding cut was when the Lib Dem leaflet arrived, saying members were fighting to get money restored.
Councillors and election candidates traded blows on the New Journal’s website all week – using the free-to-all comments box attached to our news articles online.
Labour councillor Theo Blackwell dismissed Lib Dem protests that they were not consulted about the cuts by Town Hall officers as “total and utter rubbish”, adding: “You set and voted for budgets, and decide where the money goes and what to prioritise. For example, you didn’t have to pay 3 of your backbench councillors [an] extra £5k.”
The Lib Dems are insistent funding decisions were taken by council officials without their knowledge .
Lib Dem councillor for Cantelowes ward Ben Rawlings replied at “Come off it Theo, even by your standards that’s cheap! This is nothing to do with the council’s budget – it’s a direct funding stream from central government.”
Councillors are set to meet residents from the estate in the next week to discuss alternative funding for the “vital” youth services, which are due to finish at the end of September.

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