Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson welcomes Tory-Lib Dem you

Bill Esterson

 

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson said he was delighted the Lib Dems and Tories on the council had u-turned on their decision to axe seven youth centres and the Sefton Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme.

But he said it was only down to the hard work of the young people, their families and supporters who had campaigned hard to overturn the original cuts.

The MP said all the campaigners who had opposed the Liberal Democrats' and Conservatives' slash and burn plans should be congratulated.

But he warned the fight is not over yet as the council had still agreed to make massive cuts in these and many other vital services. It was just a question of which of the youth clubs would now be saved and which would close.

Bill said: "This is great news in the short term that the Labour campaigners and the campaign groups throughout the borough forced the Lib Dems and Tories into a u-turn. But we cannot sit back and think this has now gone away.

"This is just a stay of execution. What the Youth Centres, Children's Centres and Duke of Edinburgh scheme here in Sefton have received is not concrete guarantee of a safeguarded future. The Lib-Dem Conservative coalition in Sefton has cut £1 million from the budget for youth clubs out of a total over £1.4 million and has cut £900,000 from Children’s Centres. That means they will be looking to close youth clubs and Children’s Centres later in the year when they carry out their review of the services. The decision to save the youth clubs, Children’s Centres and Duke of Edinburgh Award is just a cynical ploy to buy time until after the local elections in May.

"The Lib Dems and Tories on Sefton Council are carrying out the wishes of their masters in the Liberal Democrat and Conservative Parties nationally. They are demanding more and more cuts over the next three years. It is these cuts which jeopardise the services which we have been fighting for - and more.

"The Tories and Lib Dems caved in because of the overwhelming weight of opposition to their closure plans. But it was because of heartfelt pleas from campaigners like Tracey Smith and her autistic son Neill who told the Labour Action Teams that they rely on the skilled support that youth centres like Stafford Moreton provide, that the Lib Dems and Tories were shamed into making a u-turn.

"It is vitally important that we protect the services of young people with disabilities as they have nowhere to go.

"These are the people who will be affected by the Tory-Lib Dem rush to make the cuts.

"What we have to ask is why the Tories and Lib Dems voted to shut the centres in the first place. The answer appears to be to buy time to make the decisions later when the elections are out of the way.

Bill urged people to keep up the pressure on the Lib Dems and Tories in Sefton who he says will try to make these cuts again next year.

Bill said: "This whole process was a disgraceful way of setting the budget. The Lib Dems and Tories voted first time around to close youth centres, axe the Duke of Edinburgh Scheme and shut all phase 2 and 3 children's centres.

"This caused undue distress to some very vulnerable people in the borough and the Lib Dems and Tories should be ashamed of themselves for putting these people through it.

"I now hope that this stay of execution is a permanent one and not just a Lib Dem-Tory fudge to silence the protesters. But unless the Lib-Dems and their Tory friends change their minds, the decision to cut £1 million from youth services will mean closures.

"They voted for these cuts the first time around. And they appear to have caved in. Sadly this U-Turn may be for a matter of months only and the coalition will be back for another go later in the year.

"It shows how important campaigning is and how it people power really can make a difference. The Lib Dems and Tories haven't gone away. They've just gone off to lick their wounds. We need to ensure we keep the pressure on for when they do re-emerge."