The following article appears in this month's UNISON In Focus
'We never stop fighting until the fight is either done or won'"North Somerset UNISON will continue to fight the decision to remove youth services," is the message from North Somerset UNISON's Helen Thornton the day after the Tory-led council voted to completely remove youth services from the area.
In one of the longest debates the council has seen, speaker after speaker spoke out against the cuts, which will, Ms Thornton reported "see the few youth support workers that remain effectively become social workers," as they replace social work posts already lost.
The decision came after a campaign in which local teenagers had joined with trade unions to lobby the council three times and in which over 3,200 signatures had been added to a petition to save the service.
"The Tories say that not many kids in North Somerset use these services," said Ms Thornton.
"First of all, that's not true. This is generally an affluent area, but some parts of it have high levels of deprivation, and there are 14 youth clubs throughout North Somerset which work with some of the most vulnerable kids."
Council leader Nigel Ashton said that the council will review the decision in six months and promised £250,000 for the services to be transferred to voluntary groups.
North Somerset UNISON is determined to fight the decision and press for the six month review.
Ms Thornton says they will be encouraging parents of children who will be particularly disadvantaged by this decision to take legal action against the council: "In our view the council have now created a postcode lottery across North Somerset, with some young people, who live in areas where organisations are able to step forward to provide activities for young people, still benefitting from some sort of youth service, but other young people will not have that opportunity.
"The council leader made a promise to review the situation regarding the transfer of youth services to other organisations in six months time and we will hold him to that. He also promised some extra money to help with this transfer, and we will hold him to that too.
"As a branch we never stop fighting until the fight is either done or won."
Link to article on UNISON website http://www.unison.org.uk/news/news_view.asp?did=7611