Youth facilities – are fast disappearing but not all because of austerity

www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-37046967

The BBC has the story on its web site – See link above

This is a subject I have blogged about many times before especially in relation to youth facilities in Maghull.

I don’t think anyone reading the article on the BBC web site, which is based on a report by trade union Unison, will be surprised by the findings. However, as I have pointed out before the demise of youth facilities in Maghull has been as much about shifting political priorities than it has been about cuts caused by government austerity measures.

Yes the loss of Maghull’s Stafford Moreton Youth Centre, which was owned and run by Sefton Borough Council, can reasonably be put down to austerity cuts by Sefton Council. BUT it has to be said that Sefton Labour led young people on a march around the Town to oppose youth facility closures before the very same political party then voted to close the vast majority of the Borough’s youth facilities! I kid you not.

Maghull did have a second major youth facility though called Maghull Youth Coffee Bar which was within Maghull Town Hall and run by Maghull Town Council. It had been set up by local youngsters and had become highly popular and successful as it was not your usual type of local authority youth centre. It was run by young people for young people with minimal adult input and had been backed by Maghull Town Council’s Lib Dem administration. However, when Labour won control of the Town Council in 2011 it quickly became apparent that they had no love for this youth facility. Labour finally killed it of a few months ago but that was a policy decision not an austerity measure; indeed they openly said they were to going to provide tennis coaching as an alternative.

Readers will also know that I had little love for Sefton Youth Service because of my interactions with it. I my view it was rigid and old fashioned. It was very clear that it was extremely uncomfortable working with the Youth Coffee Bar where young people held the power and control. It took the innovation of individual youth workers to see the potential of what the young people were developing and they got involved despite the Youth Service with all it’s policies and and rigid attitudes. Indeed, local councillors had to go into bat for the youngsters on a number of occasions when the Youth Service was trying to shift how the Coffee Bar was run in ways the young people and Town Council did not want. But I have told that story often enough before.

My point is that here in Sefton Borough and in Maghull in particular I saw two very different ways of running modern youth facilities and I am in no doubt that the one invented by the young people in the 1990’s was by far the better one. Traditional youth centres with a table tennis facility in old wooden buildings were dying off because youngsters found them uninteresting.

Sadly innovation, in the form of our local Youth Coffee Bar, was killed off in Maghull by the rigid hand of municipal socialism which did not want what it could not control.

As a trade unionist I thank Unison for bringing out how at risk our few remaining youth facilities are because of the lack of public sector funding.

My thanks also to Roy Connell for spotting the story on the BBC web site.

Maghull – Stafford Moreton Youth Centre demolished

My previous posting about the the demolition of this and the old Maghull Library refers – see link below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2016/06/09/maghull-old-library-and-youth-centre-are-demolished/

Maghull's former Stafford Moreton Youth  Centre boarded up.

Maghull’s former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre boarded up.

The Youth Centre was a 1960’s building named after a prominent local councillor called Henry Stafford Moreton, indeed the adjacent Stafford Moreton Way is also named after him of course.

I did not know him as my time in local politics (starting in 1980) coincided roughly with him retiring from it. I do know his nephew Chris Bayliss though and Chris’s Uncle Frank Bayliss was also a local councillor during my early years on the council.

Many Maghull folk will have memories of attending the Youth Centre although I am not one of them. For some reason, despite the fact I came to live in Maghull in 1968 at the age of 10, I never set foot in the place as a youngster although I don’t know why.

I became aware of it though in my years as a Maghull councillor with various of my councillor friends being members of the Management Committee. Phil Watterson and Andrew Blackburn, Merrick Stott, and Cliff Mainey come to mind but I am sure there were others.

The Youth Centre bobbed along although the opening of the Youth Coffee Bar in Maghull Town Hall some 20 years ago, which became very popular, must have had an effect on the numbers of youngsters attending it. I also recall that Stafford Moreton YC had a local group for youngsters with disabilities meeting there each week for many years.

Then the recession hit us and Stafford Moreton was slated for closure, this must have been late 2010 or early 2011. Indeed, you may recall that Labour led a march around the Maghull to try to stop the closure from happening, which is quite ironic based on what actually happened later on.

My view was that the Youth Coffee Bar, a specifically developed (by young people) modern youth facility in Maghull Town Hall, could have been used more often and Stafford Moreton’s groups moved there but the powers that be seemed more concerned with just closing things down.

Youth facilities across Sefton Borough continued to decline with the Youth Coffee Bar being a beacon of hope in Maghull because the Town Council funded it rather than Sefton Borough Council.

Of course Labour then took control of Sefton Council and what did they subsequently do? They closed down Stafford Moreton Youth Club which they had marched young people around the streets of Maghull to stop the closure of!

And it has stood there rather forlornly for a number of years awaiting someone to buy the land. Readers who are close to local issues will recall that at the very time Labour-run Sefton Council was meeting to sell the Youth Centre and Old Library land to the highest bidder (which turned out to be Netto) Maghull’s Labour Party commenced a sham consultation exercise about the future of the site in community use via the Champion newspaper! Yes, you could not make it up but it happened. Of course the consultation was was never heard of again as it was just a Labour publicity stunt.

Stafford Moreton Youth Centre gone - June 2016

Stafford Moreton Youth Centre gone – June 2016

So here it is being demolished for a supermarket to take its place. What’s even more sad is that Labour has recently also shut the doors on the Youth Coffee Bar in Maghull Town Hall for the last time. Now which political party marched youngsters around Maghull to fight for local youth facilities? Oh yes, that’s right, the one that closed them all down!

Sefton Labour – The sun shines because of them you know!

Here in Sefton Labour have gained a reputation for saying one thing and then doing just about the opposite and they also claim credit for things they have had little or nothing to do with. In one case they claim credit for a motorway junction upgrade that is only happening because they voted to build houses on Green Belt/high grade agricultural land that they said they were going to defend from development!

Lets look at the local cases of Labour claims:-

Brooms Cross Road/Switch Island – Thornton Link Road:- Not down to Labour at all. The last Labour Government failed to give the final green light for the construction to start. They had been in government for years but kept kicking the road into the long grass. What’s more the real campaigners for it were the people and Parish Council of Thornton. A dodgy claim if ever I heard one comrades.

Thornton residents marching to get the new road built.

Thornton residents marching to get the new road built.

Maghull North Station:- This soon to be built station was given the green light and 95% of the money to build it by the Coalition Government, not by Labour. Another very iffy Labour claim.

Site for the new Maghull North Railway Station.  Photo taken looking north from School Lane road bridge. The former Moss Side Hospital site is to the right and Mersey Avenue to the left.

Site for the new Maghull North Railway Station. Photo taken looking north from School Lane road bridge. The former Moss Side Hospital site is to the right and Mersey Avenue to the left.

We will defend the Green Belt:- Er no, Labour voted to build on it on Sefton Council. No ifs no buts Labour said one thing, even putting up posters saying one thing, and then did the opposite.

Labour poster displayed in Lydiate - October 2013

Labour poster displayed in Lydiate – October 2013

We are getting the motorway junction on the M58 at Ashworth made into a full junction:- Well yes and er very definitely no. Here’s what Labour don’t tell you, the money for it from Government is on the back of a huge urban extension to Maghull (1,500+ houses ans an industrial park) on high grade agricultural land and Green Belt. What’s more, and I refer back to the Labour defending Green Belt issue, this site was one (of many) approved by Labour on Sefton Council who had said they would fight against Green Belt building. So yes they can claim some motorway junction success here but only because they did the opposite of what their propaganda said they were going to do! A really dodgy claim brothers and sisters of the revolution.

Closing Sefton Libraries:- Strangely Labour are not claiming credit for their Library closures or refusing volunteers in Aintree and Crosby from running closing libraries. Then again when Labour treated the volunteers so badly its no wonder they want this one swept under the red carpet.

rsz_al_collins_at_a_save_aintree_library_public_meeting_on_26th_october_12_2

Closing Youth Facilities:- Another one that Labour are not claiming credit for is the closing youth facilities in Maghull (Stafford Moreton Youth Centre and Maghull Youth Coffee Bar) despite the fact Labour marched young people around the streets of Maghull allegedly trying to stop the closure of youth centres in 2011. You had better continue to keep quiet about this double standard Labour.

Maghull's former Stafford Moreton Youth  Centre boarded up.

Maghull’s former Stafford Moreton Youth Centre boarded up.

Labour in Sefton Borough – Saying one thing, doing another and claiming credit for things they have had little or nothing to do with