Exmouth’s youth club could be saved from the axe – but the four other county-run clubs in East Devon are still set to close.

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Devon County Council wants to cut almost £1million from youth services to balance the books.

It had planned to close all the county’s 34 youth centres, including The Hive in Exmouth, if they were not taken on by voluntary organisations, writes David Beasley.

DCC also wanted to make the county’s professional youth workers redundant.

But they have had a partial change of heart, and at a meeting at County Hall yesterday (Wednesday) they were set to retain a youth service after all, albeit a smaller one.

The new plans, debated after the Journal went to press, could see eight area-based youth centre hubs in Devon retained, including The Hive.

But Ottery St Mary’s The Station and youth clubs at Sidmouth, Honiton and Axminster would still close.

The new model now proposes the retention of 53 staff working both in a targeted role with the most vulnerable and running open-access sessions.

And £100,000 will be available for advice and infrastructure support, with a further £200,000 for one-off community start-ups and grants to help communities develop local provision for young people.

Devon’s cabinet member for young people, James McInnes, said: “Improving our targeted early intervention work with the most vulnerable young people has to be the top priority.

“But we also recognise the important role that open-access provision has for many communities as part of the broader network of local support for young people and we wish to help support and encourage this.

“I believe our solution offers the best opportunity to both target our limited resources on the most vulnerable whilst harnessing the capacity and expertise of a professional youth service.”

Exmouth’s East and Mid Devon Youth MP George Downs said: “This change in policy is a hard-earned victory. In East Devon only one out of the five current youth centres will remain.

“Communities will be hit by these losses, so it is vital to use this announcement as encouragement for further campaigning.

“We have no intention of ending our campaign. Frequent direct action will continue along with media projects and legal consultation. In this way we will work towards securing a future for all young people in Devon.”

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