ALL the youth clubs that lost Oxfordshire County Council funding in September are to be saved through community initiatives.
A set of recommendations to go to the council’s cabinet on Tuesday will result in Big Society cash going to 12 of the 13 youth clubs threatened with closure, while the final one, Henley, has continued to run despite the council cuts.
It means all the 26 youth clubs that had been county council-run will continue to provide some level of youth work.
Councillor Kieron Mallon, who is behind the Big Society initiative, said: “There have been a lot of doom-mongers who have closed their eyes and ears to what we have been trying to achieve.”
He added: “It is a remarkable achievement that we are in such a positive position despite the fact that the council had less money to spend on youth services as a result of the £119m cuts it is having to make.”
The council faced criticism from young people, police officers, and community groups when it announced that a restructuring of the county’s youth provision would save £4.2m a year.
Funding was withdrawn from 13 youth centres, and instead six early intervention hubs were set up in East Oxford, Littlemore, Abingdon, Didcot, Witney and Banbury to tackle truancy, teenage pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, young offending and problem families.
In addition, six satellite centres in Barton, Rose Hill, Blackbird Leys, Donnington, Berinsfield and Kidlington have continued to offer youth work sessions.
But all other youth clubs across the county lost their funding.
Councillors set up a £600,000 Big Society Fund to give one-off start-up cash for volunteer groups to run projects in their communities.
In the first wave of grants in July, groups in Wood Farm, Wheatley, Faringdon, Wolvercote, Carterton, Eynsham, Chipping Norton and Wantage were given cash to secure the youth clubs’ futures. The Saxon Centre, Headington, has been sold to the Oxford Boxing Academy to secure its future.
On Tuesday, the council’s cabinet is set to approve another wave of grants to save three more youth clubs.
Thame’s youth centre will be transferred to Lord Williams’ School, and in Sonning Common, the Chiltern Edge youth club will become part of the Chiltern Edge School.
In Wallingford, councillors are set to approve a £20,042 bid to house the youth club and other community facilities at a former church in Wigod Way.
Big Society grants of £4,000 in Cholsey, £5,000 in Fringford, £9,500 for a radio programme run by young people with learning disabilities, and £45,000 towards the Oxford Wheels Project, which wants to build a new skate park in Meadow Lane, East Oxford, are also set for approval.