Thousands of young people protest against council axing youth services in Sunderland

About 3,000 young people have signed a petition urging council bosses not to axe youth service funding across Sunderland.

Thursday, 26th January 2017, 6:59 am
Updated Thursday, 26th January 2017, 7:02 am
Protrestors ahead the council meeting

Youth groups fear the city council may pull funding at the end of the financial year in March, as bosses try to cope with massive budget cuts.

Fifteen-year-old Josh Potter, from the Youth Almighty project, handed the petition to Coun Phil Tye, himself a youth leader in the city, who passed it on to council leader Coun Paul Watson at a full council meeting last night.

Coun Watson promised the authority would do everything it could to help.

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“We need to scour every nook and cranny and strain every sinew to keep this going,” he said.

“I am immensely proud of our young people, for knowing this is the proper way to do things.”

The youth service cash was not the only funding on the agenda, with the future of support for Sunderland’s domestic violence service also discussed.

The Echo reported in November that the future of Wearside Women in Need was in doubt amid fears it could lose cash from June.

Asked to guarantee the city would continue to have a support service, Portfolio holder for Health, Housing and Adult Services Coun Graeme Miller accused the media of spreading’ fake news’.

“There will be provision to tackle domestic violence in the city going forward,” he said.

“I am going to say it again – there will be provision to tackle domestic violence in the city.

“The ultimate aims of our future approach will be to reduce the number of women and children living with abuse and the long-terms costs associated with abuse.”

Liberal Democrat members Coun Niall Hodson and Coun Stephen O’Brien raised the issue of councillors’ allowances.

Coun Hodson said the number of members receiving special responsibilty allowance was now 80%.

“There is a danger the council leaves itself open to allegations of cronyism when so many councillors receive allowances,” he said, while Coun O’Brien branded paying subsistence allowances for meetings at which food was provided a ‘disgrace.’

But Coun Watson said allowances made up for the time and career opportunities councillors sacrificed: “ It is not remuneration,” he said.

Coun Hodson was reprimanded under the council’s standing orders for failing to address Mayor Coun Alan Emerson correctly.

There was a cry of “Let him talk, we voted for him” from the public gallery.