Campaigners delighted as council halts plan to close Castlegate

25 Nov 2014 @ 8.03 pm
| Politics

Services at 29 Castlegate include counselling and careers advice
Plans to close down the 29 Castlegate youth service and relocate its services to City of York Council’s HQ have been put on hold.

Councillors have agreed to halt the closure while other options are considered.

The threat to 29 Castlegate emerged in October. A council paper proposed to shut down the centre and centralise all its young people’s services at the West Offices headquarters.

The official report said this would save money but also lead to “an enhanced and co-ordinated post 16 young people’s service”.

Successful petition

But many young people and youth workers opposed the plan, saying the West Offices HQ was too corporate and would put vulnerable people off.

And any streamlined future service would remove the drop-in, holistic element found at 29 Castlegate. This allowed 16-25 year olds to access help on everything from housing to careers to counselling – and build trust with youth workers.

An online petition received 1,678 signatures forcing the council to review the decision.

After another council committee had called for the closure of 29 Castlegate to be put on hold, Labour Cabinet members approved this recommendation at a meeting on Tuesday (November 25).

Now other options can be considered, including seeking new ways to fund the service and a more suitable place to relocate it.

‘Thousands have been helped’

Liberal Democrats had challenged the closure decision by “calling it in”.

Cllr Carol Runciman, Lib Dem spokeswoman for children, education and young people, told the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday: “Thousands of young people have been helped since the centre was opened in 2007 and the work the staff do is rightly recognised and respected across York.

“It is effective early intervention which has turned the lives of young people around by helping them to keep healthy, safe, off drugs, out of the criminal justice system, in suitable accommodation and in work.

“This is why the campaign to keep Castlegate open has received such overwhelming support and why so many people I have spoken to in recent weeks have said they are opposed to the cuts and closure.”

York Young Adult Carers were among those to address the cabinet on the importance of 29 Castlegate. Revised proposals for how to deliver Castlegate’s services in future will come before the Cabinet in February.