Swale Borough Council have raised concerns about Kent County Council (KCC) proposals to change youth services across the borough.
The council has written to Kent’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Regulatory Services, Cllr Clair Bell, to set out its opposition to cut externally commissioned youth services, as part of proposals to create new family hubs to support children and families.
Swale Borough Cllr Richard Palmer told SFM News: “The proposed new structure will cut externally commissioned youth services, which could see nine different types of provisions delivered by the Swale Youth Consortium being lost. The suggestion that outreach youth work will be provided by KCC is unclear, and we have doubts about if this would replace existing youth work or not. The proposed hubs would be in Sittingbourne, Faversham and the Isle of Sheppey. For Sheppey in particular, the proposed location in Queenborough is a key concern due to transport links across the Island".
Cllr Palmer then went on to add: "The services that would stop under this proposal are in some of the more rural areas, or areas identified by local partners as higher levels of youth related ASB and crime, such as Faversham and Thistle Hill. Another concern is not all young people will want to go to a physical building, making the outreach work the external youth services provide even more important. These services have been successful with 57 new sign-ups per month according to Brogdale CIC who are one of the key providers within the consortium, with demand almost doubling since 2021. We firmly believe that the proposal to stop youth activities in Swale would have a very negative affect on our communities".
Cllr Palmer's final comments were: “Swale doesn’t have one central town so every area and town, even the most rural, must have access to the same level of service and this is unlikely to be achieved with the current proposal. We already experience a high level of youth related antisocial behaviour and crime, without the opportunities offered by youth services this is likely to get even worse.”
The consultation ends on Wednesday 13th September and you can have YOUR say here: https://kent.gov.uk/familyhubservices