Westminster Labour Group and Westbourne Ward Councillors are furious that as a result of Conservative Council cuts the Stowe Youth Club on Harrow Road is being forced to close almost all its services for local young people and lay off its hugely dedicated and experienced staff.
The Stowe Centre is a vital facility in Westbourne ward and is a place where historically young people from the Warwick, Brindley and Amberley Estates and beyond have come for many years to get a break from tough home lives, to take part in activities or just simply have some space. It was once the home to the one of London’s most famous youth football training grounds, known for producing stars like 1980’s Liverpool legend John Barnes.
The council stopped funding any youth services in September 2016. The community groups who run them, like Paddington Development Trust who manage the Stowe Youth Club, have tried to plug the gap and raise extra money but have been unsuccessful in securing the long-term funding needed. The Young Westminster Foundation which the Council has proposed to help groups fundraise is yet to get off the ground and remains very unlikely to be able to generate what is needed. So as a result of these Conservative cuts, from 1st April the Stowe Centre will only be able to provide a replacement one night a week session for 11-19 year olds. This will be nothing near to what use to be provided and is a massive blow to the community and life choices of the young people in the area.
Labour Leader and Westbourne Councillor Adam Hug said “Labour fought to prevent the council from cutting all council funding from youth clubs and warned their actions could have a disastrous impact. Sadly our worst fears are becoming a reality. This heartless and thoughtless Tory cut will damage lives for generations to come. The council leadership should be ashamed of itself.”
Westbourne ward Councillor Papya Qureshi says “It’s appalling how the council are not valuing how important youth services are to young people in Westminster, as this is the only thing that some young people have and it’s being taken away from them. It’s a huge loss to our community.”
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