Shropshire Council commits to fund Market Drayton Youth Club for another year
Shropshire Council will continue to fund Market Drayton Youth Club for another year, bosses have said.
The authority says it had hoped Market Drayton Town Council would pick up the bill and fund open access youth provision in its area from next month, but an agreement is yet to be reached.
Shropshire Council said new arrangements of delivering youth support services were agreed by its cabinet in January.
Earlier this week, furious youth workers announced they would be staging a protest as they expected the youth club to close at the end of this month.
But Shropshire Council says it will continue to fund the provision of open access youth clubs in Market Drayton until March 31 next year.
It means the current provision – two sessions a week at The Phoenix Centre – will continue until then.
Ed Potter, Shropshire Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, said: "At the moment we can no longer be sure that Market Drayton Town Council will and can fund youth clubs in the town.
"We’ve therefore taken the decision to continue to fund activity in the Market Drayton Town Council area up to March 31, 2021.
"We will continue to work with the town council in the meantime to secure a firm agreement for April 2021 onwards.”
Open access youth clubs are currently funded via local joint committee commissioning arrangements, but Shropshire Council is now looking to town and parish councils to fund them.
The county council intends to provide funding for 'outreach' workers to provide an element of detached youth work across the county.
It says this means funding can be redirected to target those who are most vulnerable.
In January, Shropshire Council's cabinet agreed to adopt a phased approach to the transfer of funding open access youth provision.
Where town and parish councils currently in receipt of county council funding have not yet committed to fund such youth provision themselves, Shropshire Council says it will continue to fund the existing provision up to the end of March 2021, whilst negotiations continue.
Councillor Potter added: "I firmly believe that this new approach to youth support is the best and right one.
"A great deal of time and work has been spent agreeing this new model and making sure it’s the best way forward for the council and, most importantly, our young people.
“I want to reiterate that this is not about reducing open access universally available youth clubs, but is about increasing the range of support available.
"And Shropshire Council’s budget for youth support has not been reduced – in fact it has been increased.
“Our aim is to strengthen and grow the current limited offer of support, extending the focus to incorporate Shropshire’s troubled and more vulnerable young people involved in youth crime, at risk of school exclusion and exploitation.
“This new model will enable us to build a trusted and appropriate network of youth support across Shropshire.”
Market Drayton Youth Club has been running for more than 20 years.
It is used by dozens of children each week.
The club's children have written to Shropshire Council about how important the club is to them, meanwhile a petition was also launched.
The town council declined to comment.