Protesters made their voices heard outside City Hall today – and warned councillors that if they vote for cuts to youth services they would suffer consequences at the next election.

A group called Friends of Bradford Youth Service took part in a protest over proposals to cut the department’s budget by almost 80 per cent.

Piers Telemacque, president of Bradford College Students’ Union and one of the leaders of the protest campaign, criticised claims by the Council’s ruling Labour group that it had protected the children’s service budget until this year.

He said: “When the Labour executive councillors were lobbied and questioned about the youth service cuts, their response always included a statement that the youth service has always been protected more than in other cities.

“Yet when we put in a Freedom of Information request we found out that the youth service, instead of being protected, has actually been cut by £1.7 million over the past three years.

“We will be identifying and campaigning specifically against councillors that decide to vote for these cuts and not to invest in the young people of Bradford in the upcoming budget.”

In response, Councillor Ralph Berry, the executive member for children’s services, said: “I don’t deny there have been reductions, but it is all relative.

“The Council has had to make £50 million of cuts in recent years, and some of that relates to external funding cuts.

“We have tried to make cuts to managers and protect frontline services.

“We have held off on these cuts as long as we could.”

On the possibility of councillors voting for the cuts being targetted by protesters during the Council elections in May, Coun Berry said: “Every single councillor will have to vote for some kind of cuts.”