John Todd Continues Campaign To Save Hogarth Youth Centre

Will make a case against the cutbacks before Council committee

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Councillor John Todd's campaign to save the Hogarth Youth Centre from closure will step up a gear next week when he makes his case before a Hounslow Council committee.

Members of the public can attend the meeting on Monday 18th September at 7 pm at the Civic Centre, and can submit questions in advance.

Cllr Todd has succeeded in having the issue 'called in' for discussion at the Overview & Scrutiny Committee, which can decide to agree the proposals for the Review of Youth Services, or refer the decision back for further cabinet discussion or to a full Borough Council meeting.

Hounslow Council proposes to implement £650,000 worth of savings to youth services across the borough, which would lead to the closure and destaffing of the Hogarth Centre. Youth Centres in Hounslow and Hanworth could also close. Cllr Todd is being backed by seven Chiswick councillors, and MP Ruth Cadbury and LA member Tony Arbour have also pledged support. Parents and staff at Hogarth Youth Centre are also against closure and you can see them talk about their feelings on this item on chiswickbuzztv

Members of the public will have the opportunity to submit questions ahead of the meeting and time permitting to reflect on what they have heard. The Chair will determine who speaks and in
what order but priority will be given to submitted questions.

A decision will not be referred to full Council unless either the Committee believes it to be contrary to the Policy Framework or Budget Framework, or considers that it was a Key Decision that was not dealt with as such by the Cabinet.

Councillor Todd has described the cutbacks to youth services as "pernicious". He will make the case that the cutbacks should be re-evaluated and that Hounslow's cutbacks are the third worst of all the London boroughs. He will also provide witnesses who will testify that the proposals would have an adverse effect on young people in Chiswick and elsewhere in the borough.

MP Ruth Cadbury has said she is concerned about proposed cutbacks in the youth service as the borough already has a relatively small youth service.

Hounslow Council's current youth service budget is £865,000 but is set to be reduced by £650,000 in March 2018, leaving £215,000, with three years of additional transitional funding of £150,000 a year. Cllr Todd says this is "wholly insufficient" to fund youth clubs. The Centre in Duke Road would no longer have full-time staffing as the Council proposes a detached 'mobile' service of youth workers to provide help on the streets across the borough. They would use community facilities in emergencies.

He says his research of funding across all London boroughs shows that Hounslow , in real terms, would suffer the greatest loss of funding- a 77% drop. This would be in a borough which already has a 32% poverty level, he said. This compares to Ealing, which after its cutbacks would still have a youth budget of £580,000, more than double that of Hounslow.

hogarth youth centre

Ruth Cadbury said: "I have asked the Council for information about any cuts to the youth service. This does concern me as Hounslow already has a relatively small youth service.

"Sadly it doesnít surprise me that they are having to consider proposals like this. Government cuts have meant our Councilís revenue budget has been cut by 40% since 2010 at a time when pressures on the budget, particularly for social care for elderly and disabled people which is a large part of the budget, has risen over this period.

"Itís meant that Councillors are having to make increasingly unpalatable decisions about the revenue budget, thanks to a Government that is insensitive to the implications of their obsession with ďAusterityĒ.

John Todd made several points in his submission to the Council about their proposals. He claims that the public consultation was flawed and the "clear unambigious results" from the public were ignored; here was a lack of consideration of the impact on child poverty (32% of children in Hounslow borough are estimated to be at poverty level). He says that there was a lack of consideration of the impact on non-youth users, for example, users who are disabled.

"The decision contravenes the 2014 Labour Local Authority manifesto to" raise the aspirations of our poorest children locally so they are equipped to succeed, improve services for those with learning disabilities, and ensure proper support for all sections of our community, particularly elderly, isolated or vulnerable residents."

He also says that S106 (now known as CIL) funding can be used for education purposes and this could be apportioned for youth services, he says.

The proposed Council funding of £150,000 a year for youth services was "clearly inadequate". There was a lack of clarity over the budget. The Council had "unrealistic targets and unrealistic assumptions" relating to the issue. The suggestion that youth clubs could continue without buildings and funding was unsustainable, he says.

The centre in Duke Road is managed by the charitable Hogarth Trust and partly funded by Hounslow Council. There has already been an angry response in Chiswick with a petition and a march of over 100 people to Hounslow Council's headquarters at the Civic Centre. Over 200 people attended the consultation meeting in Chiswick.

Those who have spoken out against the cutbacks include former Chiswick sergeant Dave Turtle who fears closure could lead to anti-social behaviour, and local school head teachers who spoke of the benefits to their pupils.

September 13, 2017


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