The Welsh Liberal Democrats in Powys are calling on Powys County Council’s ruling Independent/Conservative Cabinet to ‘come clean’ on its plans for youth service provision after April of this year.
On the 7th November last year the Cabinet resolved to close all the youth centres in Powys, including those in Ystradgynlais, Brecon and Llandrindod Wells, and replace the youth provision delivered in them with a mix of contracted-out, outreach and school-based activities.
Describing the plans as ‘far too vague’, Brecon & Radnorshire’s Assembly member, Kirsty Williams said:-
“It is high time the Council made clear exactly what youth service provision is going to be in place for the young people of the county after these centres close their doors in April. With funding for our Young Farmers Clubs and other voluntary organisations under severe pressure there is a continued need for comprehensive, good quality youth services in Powys. At the moment, we don’t know what will be provided and time is running short.”
Welsh Liberal Democrat Group Leader on Powys County Council, James Gibson-Watt added:-
“All the Youth Centres are located in wards with some of the highest levels of deprivation in the county. There is a good reason for that – to support the young people and families in those areas most in need in Powys and the youth centres have played a very valuable role in doing that. It is clear that the main aim of closing them is to save money, not improve the services that young people will receive. The Cabinet needs to produce clear proposals now that show how the vague option it agreed to in November last year will translate in to actual provision.”
“The young people of the county deserve nothing less concluded”, Cllr Gibson-Watt
Brecon & Radnorshire’s Liberal Democrat Assembly Member, Kirsty Williams, has hailed the Welsh Government’s proposals to extend voting rights to 16 and 17 year olds as ‘a change that is long overdue’.
Commenting on the proposals, Ms. Williams said:
“In the year in which we are commemorating 100 years since most women in the UK were granted the vote and were able for the first time to stand for election to Parliament, it could not be more appropriate for us in Wales to be extending the franchise to all 16 and 17 year olds.”
“However, this is just a first step, as it only applies to local council elections in Wales. We need now to see it extended to National Assembly and Westminster Parliamentary elections and I was dismayed to hear David Liddington MP, standing in for the Prime Minister at Prime Minister’s Questions today (Wed), confirm the Tories’ outright opposition to this change. Their wholly illogical and unjust resistance is purely based on the calculation that young people tend not to vote Conservative.”
“Rather than denying young people who are, in many cases, working, paying taxes and serving their country in the armed services the right to vote purely on the basis of self-interest, they should be concentrating on living up to Mrs May’s rhetoric about making the UK a society ‘that works for everyone’ by giving all our young people a right to vote in all elections.”
The leaders of the three opposition groups on Powys County Council have jointly demanded that an independent root-and-branch investigation is launched in to the way that the Independent/Conservative-run council has been managed and led at a senior level in the period up to and since the production of a damning report by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW) into the council’s Children’s Services in October this year.
Their demands, outlined in a letter to the Council’s Leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris, highlight the CSSIW’s findings and continuing concerns over budgetary control and the quality of service delivery in other services. The Council faces an inspection of its Adult Social Care Services early in the New Year.
Despite a recent high profile Care and Social Services Inspectorate for Wales (CSSIW) report highlighting serious failures at the heart of Powys County Council’s Children’s Social Services, it has been left to the Powys Liberal Democrats to ensure the Council considers this in a key performance document.
Reacting to the closure of the Staylittle Outdoor Centre, the Powys Liberal Democrats have suggested that little has changed at the Council since the new Independent/Conservative Cabinet was formed in May, as poor financial management continues to reduce services.
Staylitte Outdoor Centre, around seven miles north-west of Llanidloes, is to be withdrawn from the contract with Freedom Leisure, the company that runs the Council’s sports and leisure facilities, as part of plans to slash its leisure services budgets. The facility will be closed by April 2018.
Following the publication this week of the damning Care & Social Services Inspectorate for Wales’s (CSSIW) report into Powys County Council’s Children’s Social Services, the Welsh Liberal Democrat group on the Council have questioned the role of the Chief Executive in the recovery process.