Buildings set to be axed soon as council aims to save money

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THE number of buildings Calderdale Council uses for its Young People’s Service is set to be cut as hundreds of thousands of pounds is slashed from its budget.

The service needs to save £200,000 in 2012/13 and a further £140,000 in 2013/14.

A working party of the Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Panel spent the summer looking at how this could be achieved while ensuring the service continues to play its important role.

Panel members have now considered the report of the working party and agreed to recommend the report to the council’s Cabinet.

The key recommendation is that the Young People’s Service should remain a universally accessible service, but should focus its work with those young people who are experiencing difficulties in their lives.

This means that more service will be provided in the areas of the borough where these problems are most prevalent.

Other recommendations include:

* Reducing the number of buildings that the Young People’s Service operates from and making sure that the remaining buildings are used as efficiently as possible

* Maximising the opportunities for people to volunteer to help the service

* Develop a commissioning strategy so that – where it makes sense for service provision or economic reasons – some services may be provided by organisations other than the Council

* Consider alternative models of service delivery, such as social enterprises and strengthen partnerships with other organisations so that some services may be provided jointly, or from different venues

* Making sure the young people’s service can generate increased income from schools and other organisations, which use facilities such as the outstanding Mixenden Outdoor Centre

The future shape of Young People’s Services in the borough will be discussed by Cabinet.

Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Panel Chairman, Coun Colin Raistrick, says the report’s findings offer a clear direction for the service.

He said: “We need to target this service at those young people who need it most, rather than spread our resource too thinly.

“This will be the most effective use of the reducing budget for this service.

“By making much more extensive use of volunteers, commissioning some of the service from outside organisations when they are able to provide more efficient and effective services and working in partnership with voluntary organisations, we can make our resource go a lot further.

“We have too many buildings, which means we are spending money on maintaining those buildings, rather than frontline services.

“We do need to have a base in communities that young people use, but currently we are not doing this efficiently.”

Coun John Hardy, who was on the panel charged with looking at all the establishments that the council operate, added that no decision had yet been taken on which buildings would close.

He said: “No firm decisions have been made though certain establishments will close but only if there is a suitable alternative for the convenience of the people who are using them.

“It is still not finalised but there will probably be four hubs one of which will be the new Orange Box building just round from the Piece Hall.

“These decisions are not something that will be taken lightly. We are not recommending that places are closed wholesale. Some people do not like change at all and there will be some people who are disadvantaged inevitably.

“The main thing is to try to maintain the level of service which we have currently and if anything improve it.

“At the moment I would say the system is adequate across the borough.”