Youth centres to close amid corruption claims

Adam Offord
Thursday, June 23, 2016

A council is set to close a number of youth centres amid claims of corruption and malpractice in the way services were run. ??

??Tower Hamlets Council said there have been allegations of fraud and malpractice within the local authority's youth service and has said it plans to close some centres on a temporary basis, with eight remaining open. It has been reported that as many as 18 youth centres could be closed, although Tower Hamlets is yet to confirm this.?

Allegations of malpractice include the abuse of council credit cards, irregularities over expenses, and nepotism when deciding who contracts for youth activities should go to.

??Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs said: "We have reviewed the operation of the youth service and are taking interim steps to resolve failings that needed immediate attention.

??"In addition to serious allegations of fraud and malpractice, I inherited a situation where youth centres were technically open but either had minimal attendance or were in reality shuttered up. It would have been reckless not to act.
 
"The interim model will meet the needs of our young people and offer consistent delivery of a range of high-quality services, six days a week, filling gaps and better reaching everyone.
 
"This is a temporary step and in the summer we will complete our review and make proposals for the future, consulting with the community and in particular listening to the young people of the borough, including our young mayor and youth forum. It is they who the service is there for."??

A campaign group calling themselves Save Our Youth Clubs have criticised the move on a change.org petition, which has received 800 signatures. ?

?It says: "We feel that our trust in the council has been breached and we want to convey the message that the decision they made about closing the youth centre will affect the young people the most as youth clubs provides a safe venue for our friends to meet, take part in activities and teach us important life skills."??

The group claims the proposed changes will come into effect on 14 July. It warns that closing the centres will force young people to travel across the borough for provision, something it said "is not a safe option" because of violence and postcode gangs. ??

Tower Hamlets Council said the proposals are yet to be rubber-stamped by councillors and has not confirmed a date for them coming into effect.

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