Several thousand protesters have written to Bradford Council chiefs to urge them to spare “lifeline” youth services from budget cuts.
There has been a flood of petitions, comments and e-mails from people determined to convince councillors to make cuts in other areas.
The Labour-run Council’s powerful executive was meeting today to make its recommendations about the next budget, and campaigners hoped the groundswell of support for the youth services proved enough to make senior councillors change their minds on where the cuts will fall.
The Friends of Bradford Youth Services was set up after it was revealed that the department’s budget would be slashed by up to 80 per cent.
The Council had announced last November that it would need to make £89 million of cuts over the next two financial years.
Of this, £3 million would come out of the youth services and this could effect youth centres and lead to reductions in youth support workers.
The Council received petitions containing thousands of names of people opposed to the cuts, and hundreds of “Christmas cards” just before Christmas – each containing a message from a child highlighting what the cuts would mean to them.
But to make sure the responses were heard, the group also collected as many “official” responses to the consultation as possible, and about 3,500 were collected and handed in.
These will be added to more than 500 online responses.
The campaign has been spearheaded by Piers Telemacque, president of Bradford College Students’ Union. His group has so far protested outside City Hall, debated the issue with MPs and started a campaign to get young people to send photos to the council of themselves holding signs explaining what the youth service means to them.
Mr Telemacque said: “The response has been too much for them to ignore. The majority of these responses are from young people or parents who would be hit be the cuts.
“A lot of people had difficulty reading and writing, so we made sure we gave them the support they need to fill these responses in. We were told to fill in consultation forms and that is what we’ve done.”
He said he feared that at a meeting of the Labour Party on Saturday members were only told of the 536 online responses, and this means many had already made their mind up without knowing the final number of responses.
However, Council leader David Green last night assured the responses to the proposed cuts had been in the “thousands” and they would be taken into account by the executive today as it made its final recommendations to a special budget meeting of the Full Council to be held later this month.