Labour leaders meet young people to discuss Tory-Lib Dem youth s

Labour Actionn Team members with young people at Stafford Moreton


Labour Action Teams attended a Sefton Council organised event on Thursday evening to discuss with young people Lib Dem and Tory plans to close youth centres in Maghull, Crosby and Formby.

Patrick McKinley, Marion Atkinson and Kris Brown who are all members of the Labour Action Team in Maghull, Aintree and Melling, joined Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson, Maghull Labour Councillor Tony Carr and a number of his colleagues to hear the concerns of the young people who are fighting to keep the youth centres open.

Although the meeting had been organised by Sefton Council and was held in an area which has 8 Lib-Dem Cllrs, no Liberal Democrat councillor attended.

Under the Lib Dem-Tory cuts proposals Maghull's Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and Aintree's Oriel Drive centre are set to close.

Following the meeting, Bill Esterson said he had been very impressed by the young people who attended.

Bill said: "The meeting was very well attended by young people from Maghull, Crosby and Formby, all of whom are very passionate about keeping the youth centres open.

"All of the Labour members who attended are opposing these closures, but it was good for us all to hear first-hand the passionate pleas of the young users as to why the centres should remain open.

"But I was very disappointed that no Lib Dem councillors bothered to show up and hear for themselves why they are so wrong in ploughing on with these closures.

"From speaking to the young people, it is clear just how popular the clubs are and how important the facilities are. It is vital that the Tories and Lib Dems have a change of heart. The Labour group supports the youth clubs and I hope that the other parties will now do the same.

"I am sure that if the youth clubs are reprieved then the staff, young people and families will be able to suggest savings if they are necessary.

"It is vital that the youth clubs along with children’s centres and services to some of our most vulnerable people are protected whatever other cuts are forced on Sefton Council by the disgraceful approach of the Tory-Lib Dem government. Some of the young people asked how Liverpool City Council was able to keep some of its youth clubs open but Sefton was closing all of its clubs.

"The answer is that Liverpool is Labour run and it is making youth clubs and services to the most vulnerable a priority. Sefton needs to follow the lead of Liverpool. Joe Anderson and Liverpool Labour Group have shown what is possible. The Labour group in Sefton agrees with the approach taken by Joe. Now we need Sefton's Tories and Lib Dems to respond."

One young person told the meeting that without the youth clubs young people would hang about on the street corners and were more likely to turn to crime. This would cost a lot more money than keeping the youth clubs open.

While Sefton Council say there are currently no plans for the vacant centres, the young people who attended warned the buildings would become a target for vandalism.

Parents of young people with disabilities also attended and told the meeting that their children needed the routine and security of going to the youth centres each week. They argued the closures would isolate their children and put huge pressure on the families.

Other young people who use the centres made it clear that they valued the staff who faced the threat of losing their jobs.

Patrick McKinley, who attended the meeting with Bill Esterson MP, is the Labour candidate for Sudell Ward in Maghull. Patrick said: "It was good to hear directly from the young people themselves why they want to keep these youth centres open.

"It is a false economy for the Lib Dems and Tories to close these centres down. The longer term costs will be greater.

"My colleagues in the Labour Action Team and I have been contacted by a number of families about these closures.

"People are clearly seeing how hurtful and damaging these cuts will be to young people and ordinary families right here in Sefton. The police tell me that they are concerned about young people being involved in crime, they are worried about young people being victims of crime. Stafford Moreton Youth Club is a safe place for young people to go. The loss of our youth clubs will increase the risk of young people being involved in crime or being victims, both of which are going to cost lots more money than will be saved, not to mention the impact of the lives of the young people involved."

Marion Atkinson, who is also the Labour candidate for Aintree, Melling and Ssouth Maghull, said: "I have had a lot of contact from parents in Aintree, Melling and Maghull who are concerned about these closures.

"One of the main benefits of the centres is that parents know their children are in a safe environment. Closing the centres means that parents won't have that security and we will end up with more young people on the streets.

"This is a concern for every single person in our communities. That is why the Labour Action Teams and our councillors are fighting these unfair closure plans."

Maghull Youth Council chairman Liam Cunningham chaired the meeting.

Liam said: "All the young people got their views across and the panel responded with positive answers. It was a very successful meeting and proved to be of great use."