Haringey’s “Corbyn Council” is set to confirm a controversial decision hinted at in July to scrap plans for a multi-million pound investment in youth facilities in the borough.
Under plans originally approved in March this year – before the decisive pro-Jeremy Corbyn change in the council leadership – Haringey would have partnered with charity OnSide to deliver a £6.5m “Youth Zone” in Wood Green.
But a new report to be considered by the council’s cabinet next Tuesday (11 September) recommends halting the plan. “Following the local election in May 2018 and work to develop a new and as yet emerging strategic approach by the council and partners to address the needs of young people at risk, it is felt that the landscape in which a Youth Zone would be operating in the borough is not yet clear,” the report says.
The purpose-built Haringey Youth Zone, on unused school land, would have offered daily affordable activities for more than 200 young people each evening, including “open access” sports, arts and social activities alongside targeted support in employment, mentoring and physical and emotional wellbeing, according to a report on the issue produced in March.
The now former council leader Claire Kober had said the Youth Zone would provide facilities the council could not supply alone. It would have run in addition to the existing council-owned youth centre in Bruce Grove, Tottenham. £3.5m capital and £900,000 a year in revenue would have come from the charity with £3m capital and £250,000 a year revenue contributed by the council.
While the new report recognises that working with OnSide “would bring considerable additional investment into the borough for youth provision”, it argues that more work is needed on the “emerging” Young People at Risk Strategy before commitments are made.
The report asserts that “engagement so far…has confirmed that a community based response resonates widely” and that “questions have been raised about whether a single base for youth provision, rather than a network of community settings acting as bases for provision across Haringey, is a preferable approach”.
While no details of the engagement exercise are provided, the report concludes that “it is considered too soon to be in effect shaping future provision around a single offer when the overall priorities and outcomes for young people at risk have not yet been developed or agreed more widely…there is insufficient clarity and agreement to develop a Youth Zone currently and that the key priority is to continue this wider work before committing to a specific model of intervention and support.” Officers are therefore asked to “rescind all previous decisions made relating to a Youth Zone in Haringey…and to dissolve any arrangements made for a Youth Zone”.
Launched in 2008, OnSide has a network of 10 similar Youth Zones, mainly in northern England but with London projects underway in Barking & Dagenham, Barnet, Croydon and Hammersmith & Fulham. In the capital, OnSide is supported by the Lord Mayor’s charity.
Charles Wright is a former Haringey Labour councillor.
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