YOUNGSTERS have warned councillors that pressing ahead with cuts to youth work will lead to spiralling crime and more teenagers hanging out on street corners.

Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet will vote whether to back changes to the service on Tuesday to save £4m a year.

But it now says that community and school initiatives should mean youth provision can continue “at a similar level”.

Youth work is set to be scaled back across the county, with 21 council-run centres likely to be stripped of funding.

But the council now believes many can be saved by other groups.

A report prepared for Tuesday’s meeting says: “Local councillors are leading plans to make sure that a service continues in their locality... provided by local people from the business and voluntary, community and faith sectors.

“Should all of these proposals come to fruition, the coverage across the county should continue at similar levels to now.”

Among those fighting the cuts is Nicky Wishart, 13, from Eynsham, who said: “Talking to a professional youth worker can never be the same as talking to a friend of your mum’s who volunteers.Councillors should only vote for these cuts if they want to see more crime and more young people on the streets.”

This week, teenagers held a protest in Banbury where they lay on the pavement spelling out Stop.

Seven council youth centres, including two in Oxford, are to be turned into ‘hubs’, providing early intervention services targeted at the most disaffected, while a reduced level of work will continue in six satellite centres.

But funding at 21 other centres is at risk. Of these, six are on school sites, and the county council is in discussions to keep them open. Community groups have been set up to save another half dozen threatened centres.

Eight non-council venues, which receive varying levels of help and resources from County Hall, will be given an extra year of support to provide time for community groups to take over.

Jan Paine, from the county council, said: “Hopes are high that a significant number of these centres will have a future here.”

But Cat Hobbs, from Oxford Save Our Services, said: “This is the end for qualified, funded youth work across the entire county.

“It will have an impact and it will cause more problems in the long term that will cost more to solve.”