BARNSLEY Council have said that three youth centre buildings have been earmarked for closure.

The closures of Darfield C17, Wombwell Highfields Youth Centre and Worsbrough Youth Centre will reduce the amount spent on repairs, maintenance and utility bills. Sales of unused buildings will raise funds and reduce the need to make further cuts to services. 

Cabinet members approved a report which will create a more sustainable youth service across the borough.

Resources will be concentrated in one ‘Youth Hub’ within each of the six area council areas. This will see these six hubs withdrawing from their traditional recreational and leisure roles, instead offering services for young people provided by the council - as well as those provided by partners in the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Cllr Tim Cheetham insisted that the council will continue to meet its statutory duties, but that the impact of the cuts has had a significant impact on the service’s capacity.

"A number of changes will take place," he said. "We have been consulting with young people and stakeholders to make sure that people understand what we’re aiming to do and why we need to do it.

"We simply don’t have the money to provide the existing full range of services across the borough any more.

"We need to be better able to target those young people who need our help most in the areas of greatest need, with the flexibility to respond to changing situations and priorities, while still maintaining some overarching services that everyone can access."

The service consists of the Youth Service (including youth clubs), Youth Offending Team, Targeted Information and Guidance (formerly Connexions), Participation and Inclusion Team, and the Positive Activities Service.

This year there is the need to find a further £1.687million in savings on top of the £1.6million already found since 2011/2012. Future savings in 2014/2015 of £451,000 will also need to be found.

This means that by next year the service will be operating on a budget of 50 percent less than it was in 2010/2011.

The service will lose a further 12 full-time posts and 20 part-time posts on top of those roles already deleted in previous years. There will also be reductions in budgets for staff training and development in order to meet the savings target.

Cllr Cheetham added: "Redundancy, closure of buildings and the reduction of services is never done lightly, but we feel that this is the only option available to us that will allow us to continue providing youth services, admittedly at a reduced capacity.

"However, I should point out that while we're reducing our services, this opens up a number of opportunities for the voluntary, community and private sector to get more involved.

"The new hubs will play a key role in helping identify where the gaps are locally, and will provide access to training, funding advice and support, and toolkits for commissioning local services by local providers, all of which will help plug those gaps."