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Kids protest to stop Tower Hamlets Mayor taking over their youth clubs

PUBLISHED: 18:00 10 April 2012

Youngsters campaigning to stop the Town Hall taking over their youth clubs in London’s East End protested outside while the Mayor’s cabinet was in session.

At least 2,000 have now signed a petition which has been presented to Tower Hamlets council urging the mayor to change his mind.

The campaign has backing from Opposition councillors.

“Young people should have a say in running their local youth service,” Labour’s Rachael Saunders told the Advertiser.

“The Mayor is pulling out of local partnerships with organisations like the schools and housing associations that run the youth service who put their own resources into it.

“If the Mayor takes over, council taxpayers will get worse deal and will have to foot the bill for everything.”

The youngsters were met with a counter demonstration by a group of Mayor Lutfur Rahman supporters last Wednesday—but it wasn’t enough for the Mayor’s decision to be ratified. The petition to stop the take-over is enough to require a debate at next month’s full council meeting.

The council says a new “integrated” youth service would be cheaper and more efficient, that nobody using the clubs would notice any difference because the changes would be at management level.

But the move sparked protests last month from community organisations and schools currently contracted to run the youth clubs.

The head teacher at George Green’s Secondary on the Isle of Dogs, Kenny Frederick, warned that street gangs could return if the take-over went ahead.

It was “a short sighted move in the aftermath of the riots,” she said in a letter to the Mayor and to every councillor, because the youth clubs needed to be locally-run in areas where there has been “anti-social behaviour and gang warfare” in the past.

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