COUNCILLORS at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council have slammed a proposed 81 per cent cut in youth services across the borough.

As previously reported by The Gazette, Hampshire County Council has announced that it plans to save between £800,000 and £1.2million in 2015-16 from their youth support services following a cut in Government funding.

As part of the proposals, 23 youth pods, which will provide centre-based targeted youth work, will be set up across Hampshire. They will provide information and advice on issues including sexual health, drugs and alcohol, homelessness, mental health issues and bullying.

One youth pod is being proposed for Basingstoke, receiving £43,920 per year from the county council, and providing services for just 12 hours per week.

Labour councillors Jack Cousens and Mark Taylor slammed the proposed cuts in a motion at last Thursday’s full council meeting.

Several young people also asked Cllr Cathy Osselton, Cabinet member for partnerships, how the borough council intends to react to the funding proposal.

Cllr Cousens told the meeting: “I know members on this (Labour’s) side believe that 81 per cent of cuts is absolutely disgraceful. I don’t believe the cuts are acceptable.”

Cllr Taylor added: “The youth of today are the voters of tomorrow. If as a borough council, we can ringfence money for a bridge, we can ringfence money for youth services in the town.”

Borough Labour group deputy leader Cllr Paul Harvey added: “These cuts are totally damaging people’s lives in ways beyond belief. I can understand why young people are as angry as they are. The challenge is what we do about it, and how we deal with it?”

The majority of councillors voted to support the motion criticising the cuts, with 29 councillors voting in favour and 26 councillors voting against.

Cllr Osselton told councillors that the borough council is committed to supporting young people. She said she intends to write to county council bosses to tell them that the borough council understands that savings need to be made, but it opposes the cuts.