Young person launches legal challenge against youth cuts

By Neil Puffett

| 25 April 2012

A local authority is facing a legal challenge from a young person who has moved to block plans to make substantial cuts to youth services.

Youth services across the country are facing reduced budgets. Image: Alex Deverill

A boy, who has not been named, claims North Somerset Council breached the Equality Act by failing to consider matters including disability, sexual orientation and race in its decision.

North Somerset Council plans to cut the youth service budget by more than 70 per cent by 2014/15. As a result of the cuts, six youth groups will cease to operate.  

In his evidence to the court, the claimant describes how attending his local youth centre feels like being “part of a family” and he is worried that this “happy family might be broken up”.

A High Court Judge will decide next week whether the matter will proceed to a full hearing.

Daniel Carey, a solicitor at Public Interest Lawyers, which is representing the boy, said: “Youth services are highly valued by the young people who use them and have been the lifeblood of many communities for a number of years.  

“Their long-term future has been thrown into doubt by the unprecedented scale of these cuts, which will bite harder progressively over the next three years.  

“For cuts of this severity, the law requires the council to carry out a high degree of information gathering and to anxiously consider their impact before approving them.  

“But the council has clearly failed to do this. It is refusing to push the pause button on these cuts, so we have no option but to ask the High Court to intervene.”

A spokeswoman for the council said: “Solicitors representing a North Somerset resident wrote to the council questioning our decision regarding cuts to the youth service. 

“We gave a full and robust response as to why the decision was made. The solicitors are now pursuing a High Court challenge to this decision and it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”

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