Councils reveal interim measures following youth club closure

The Brook Way Youth Club in Bradley Stoke has closed

South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) has revealed details of the interim youth provision measures it has put in place following its decision, jointly with Bradley Stoke Town Council (BSTC), to close the Brook Way Youth Club at the end of last month.

Youth workers will be going out onto the streets on three nights a week to engage with young people congregating at places such as the skate park and the Willow Brook Centre.

The street work will be supplemented by six hours of activity sessions each week – including DJ’ing, football and young women’s projects – taking place at Baileys Court Activity Centre and Bradley Stoke Community School.

Catherine Challinor, a full time youth worker for SGC, said the programme would remain in place until Christmas, after which it might be reviewed following feedback from service users.

Having taken the decision, back in July, to close the Brook Way Youth Club, the Councils have now finally opened a public consultation to ask young people which activities they would like to see provided in the local area. The survey, dubbed “the largest, most in depth consultation regarding youth provision in Bradley Stoke” by Mayor Ben Walker in a recent Town Council newsletter, was supposed to start in September but finally got underway on 1st November.

The Bradley Stoke Youth Needs Survey 2011 runs until 17th December. SGC says it will publish the results of the consultation by the end of January 2012 on its Youth Unlimited website.

Reasons for closure never properly explained

The reasons for closing the Brook Way Youth Club have not been revealed in any formal documents published by the two councils. The only explanation to surface is in an letter put out by SBCP on 1st August:

“Unfortunately we have been informed that the Town Council and South Gloucestershire Youth Service are not satisfied with the delivery of youth work in Bradley Stoke. We have failed to work with the numbers of young people that they were hoping for, or to engage as fully as they would have liked us to.”

Draft minutes of the BSTC Full Council meeting on 13th July 2011 stated simply that a discussion on “Youth Provision in Bradley Stoke” was “CONFIDENTIAL”. Mayor Ben Walker explained at the subsequent Youth Committee meeting on 15th August that this had been necessary “in order to ensure confidentiality … when people’s jobs and livelihoods are at stake”, referring, it is believed, to the possibility that SBCP might need to make youth workers redundant as a result of the decision.

By the time the minutes came to be approved at the next meeting of BSTC’s Full Council in September, SBCP had notified its employees and begun a formal employee consultation period, but the Council still chose not to release further details in the final version of the July minutes.

A source at SBCP has since confirmed that 13 of its employees (one full-time and 12 part-time) were made redundant as a result of the Bradley Stoke youth work contract being terminated.

The final meeting of the Brook Way Youth Club took place on 20th October, when 70 young people were presented with certificates of achievement.

Shouldn’t consultation have been done first? – asks Councillor

The Council’s decision to close the Brook Way Youth Club before starting a consultation exercise with the young people who attend it was questioned by Cllr Tom Aditya at the Youth Committee Meeting in August. Cllr Aditya, who is also an SBCP trustee, was reminded by Mayor Ben Walker that the agenda item – “Update on Youth Provision in Bradley Stoke” – was “an update, not a discussion”.

The troubled recent history of Brook Way Activity Centre

The youth club’s move to Brook Way in 2009 meant that a number of community hirers were forced to find other accommodation in the town. Once the youth club was up and running, local residents complained of anti-social behaviour, particularly on and around the outside sports court at the centre. Two incidents of suspected sabotage – the cutting of power cables and the felling of a floodlight column – were investigated by police but no charges were ever brought.

The Town Council has now re-opened Brook Way Activity Centre to general hirers, following a £20,300 one-week refurbishment, and is currently offering a 10% discount on new bookings.

Councillors at Brook Way Youth Club

Photo: Happier days in 2010, when Councillors welcomed the youth club to Brook Way.

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  1. Seems like lots of money has been wasted here, first dedicated facilities were built at Baileys Court for a youth club, then subsequently this is closed and moved to Brook Way forcing out paying customers, now more changes made in secret.
    Reminds of the bowls club fiasco

  2. It seems there are people that like to complain no matter if the kids are “under their feet” at home or “roaming the streets” or at the local youth venue. These people need to be more supportive rather then negative and it could show a different light on this situation. My daughter and her friend went to the Baileys Court youth club on Monday 7th November and came out with lots of excitement and repeatedly telling me what fun they had and even played their part in planning the next several weeks with the club leaders. I fully support the all the people involved who are really trying to make a go of the clubs and to help OUR kids find positive experiences and things to do.

  3. I’m puzzled as to why the council felt it necessary to take this drastic step before doing the consultation. There would be no need for “interim measures” if this had been handled better. What do councillors know about youth work anyway?

  4. The image with this story reminds me of the opening credits to “Prisoner: Cell Block H”.

    One of the things that annoys me about local government is the jobsworth nature of some of the officers/councillors. This is clearly an important issue which needs to be debated out in the open. BTSC have a meeting, and someone wrote in the agenda “update” instead of “discussion” and so that means that the matter cannot be discussed? Seriously?
    I’ve often said: if a business was run like a council, it wouldn’t be a business any more. I’ve been to full SGC meetings and thought “90% of this is irrelevant waffle” and could be done much more efficiently using other media. No wonder decision-making is so slow!

  5. I totally agree with Annie when she asks “What do councillors know about youth work anyway? The answer is NOTHING and this is obvious from the totally misguided view that cllrs have of young people and what they want to do. One cllr in particular thinks that young people want what he wanted when he was their age. Sorry Brian you’re wrong.

    Let’s hope the the long awaited consultation is not ignored and that the voice of young people is not drowned by the voice of all knowing cllrs.

    And Yes, I was once one of those cllrs, but I did let the Youth Workers do their “thing” and not interfere like many feel they have to.

  6. “Having taken the decision, back in July, to close the Brook Way Youth Club, the Councils have now finally opened a public consultation to ask young people which activities they would like to see provided in the local area”,makes me laugh really,,, back at the start off august, “a B/S cllr” had a meeting with some of youths from brook way youth club, and most of the kids said what the wanted and also said “that if it wasn’t for the youth clubs some will be in trouble with the police” (which fell on deaf ears) ,,,(yes ok the kids had to take action for them selfs,) yes the consultation will be good,but why has it taken so long!!!!!! but will the cllrs LISTEN to what the youth want, i don’t think so!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Seems the council has pre-judged the outcome of the consultation by reletting Brook Way to other hirers. What if the young people say they want their youth club back? Oh, just realised that’s not going to happen – the online survey doesn’t mention the phrase “youth club” at all!

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