PROTESTERS who gathered outside the doomed Connexions centre claim crime will soar if centres are lost.
Up to 60 per cent of its staff, who work to get unemployed youngsters off the streets and into work, and provide youth groups and teen pregnancy advice, are set to lose their jobs as the Government axe falls on the resort.
Blackpool Council will cut Blackpool Young People’s Service (BYPS) – which funds Connexions – by half, from £4m a year to £2m from the children and young people’s budget, after being told to make savings of £27m.
The service, which runs centres across Blackpool, provides help to every youngster in their final years at school, and takes them under their wing if they are not in eduction or employment (NEET) in the following months.
Diane Wardle, personal advisor at Connexions on Abingdon Street, who joined the protest on Market Street yesterday, said: “A 60 per cent reduction in staff is a drastic haemorrhaging of a team who work hard to keep young people off the streets.
“There will be havoc on the streets come Christmas, anitsocial behaviour and crime will escalate. Connexions and its associated youth groups actively keep teenagers out of trouble and get them into jobs.”
Trade union Unison organised lunchtime protests across the North West yesterday, claiming the region has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment, which will soar if Connexions is lost.
The Government plan to replace the axed careers advisers with an all-age service.
But Iain Phillips, local manager for young people’s services, said: “The Government have not finalised these plans, so who will work on the frontline?”
The Blackpool centre has requested MP Gordon Marsden demand answers during prime Minister’s Question Time on March 16.
Andrew McGregor, chairman of the North West UNISON Connexions Committee, said: “It is short sighted madness and an appalling waste of talent from those who passionately care about helping young people.”