Youth charity OnSide has expressed its disappointment following Haringey Council’s decision to scrap a partnership which would have delivered a £6.5m “Youth Zone” in the borough. The decision, hinted at in July, was confirmed at the council’s cabinet last Tuesday.
The investment plan, originally approved in March this year – before a decisive pro-Jeremy Corbyn change in the council leadership – would have offered daily affordable activities for more than 200 young people, alongside targeted support in employment, mentoring and physical and emotional wellbeing. It would have run in addition to the existing council-owned youth centre in Bruce Grove, Tottenham.
An OnSide spokesperson said the charity remained “committed to working in partnership with local authorities to unlock the funding required to deliver state-of-the-art facilities that provide universal access to high-quality youth services.”
He added: “Our cross-sector community partnership model is proving well suited to the needs of many London boroughs, with our first three Youth Zones set to open in Barking and Dagenham, Barnet and Croydon next year and many more in the pipeline across the capital and beyond.
“Should Haringey council decide to re-start the process at any point, we would be open to further discussions around how we might help deliver the safe and inclusive spaces that local young people deserve.”
A report to the cabinet, while recognising that working with OnSide “would bring considerable additional investment into the borough for youth provision”, argued that more work was needed on the “emerging” Young People at Risk Strategy before commitments were made.
It concluded: “There is insufficient clarity and agreement to develop a Youth Zone currently and…the key priority is to continue this wider work before committing to a specific model of intervention and support.”
The Youth Zone, which would have been built on unused land at Woodside High School in Wood Green, was described by the school’s chair of governors Gerard Kelly as “an imaginative proposal from a respected charity with a proven track record”.
He added: “The challenges young people face in Haringey, in particular the upsurge in gang violence and knife crime, are urgent and immediate. An extensive review, based on the assumption that it is better to disperse resources rather than consolidate them, seems an odd way to address those challenges.”
Charles Wright is a former Haringey councillor.