Calls for Castlegate rethink

Liberal Democrat and Green councillors are calling on Labour to rethink a decision to close the Castlegate Centre in York.

Castlegate centre

Last week the Labour Cabinet rubber-stamped proposals to shut Castlegate.

The centre was opened by the Liberal Democrat Council in 2007 and offers information, support, advice and counselling to young adults aged 16 to 25.

Under the plans, counselling services will be cut and then transferred to West Offices. An online petition urging the council to withdraw the plans has already attracted more than 350 signatures.

Liberal Democrat Councillors Keith Aspden and Carol Runciman have called-in the decision for further review alongside Green Party Leader Cllr Andy D’Agorne. The decision will now be reconsidered at a meeting of the cross-party Corporate and Scrutiny Management Committee on Monday 20th October.

Lib Dem Group Leader Cllr Keith Aspden commented:

“Labour’s decision to close Castlegate is incredibly short-sighted. The support offered at Castlegate means young people across the city are able to find work, accommodation and deal with health issues. It is early-intervention work which transforms lives and stops problems spiralling out of control.

“The current centre works because it has excellent staff in a location that is suitable, user-friendly and accessible. Cutting services and then moving what is left to West Offices is totally wrong. The council’s HQ is a large, very public and corporate style building. I fear that young people will not feel comfortable going there for confidential advice and therefore problems which could be solved won’t be solved.

“Labour took the decision to close Castlegate with little consultation or prior notice and without properly considering alternatives. I would urge them to withdraw the proposal completely. If they won’t do this then, at the very least, they should delay the closure of Castlegate in order to ensure that other options, such as suitable co-location with another service, can be considered.”

Green Group Leader Cllr Andy D’Agorne commented:

“Castlegate provides very cost effective support for young people – without it, not only will individuals miss out on vital help to turn their lives around, other services will face greater pressure with higher costs to society in the long term.”

The Call-In reads:

Call-In: 8. Rewiring Public Services: Business Case For Children’s Services

We are opposed to the decision to close Castlegate and re-locate the remaining services to West Offices for the following reasons:

When Castlegate opened 2007, it brought together a number of agencies and different funding streams to offer a comprehensive support service for young people in a user-friendly, accessible and flexible location.

Through offering effective support and advice the centre has an outstanding track-record of helping keep young people safe, healthy, off drugs, out of the criminal justice system, in suitable accommodation and in work.

This effective early-intervention is crucial in many areas, including mental health where half of all diagnosable conditions start by the age of 14 and 75% by the age of 21.

The closure of Castlegate, cuts in services, and the re-location of remaining services to West Offices jeopardises all this work and abandons the commitment to effective early-intervention.

West Offices – a large, public and corporate building – is not a suitable location for the services which will remain.

This decision has been taken with little consultation or prior notice and without properly considering alternatives.

We would urge Cabinet to withdraw the proposal and, at the very least, delay the closure of Castlegate in order to ensure that other options, such as suitable co-location with another service, can be considered.

The Castlegate centre offers 16 – 25 year olds information, advice, support and counselling advice and help with a range fo issues including  on housing, benefits, looking for work, money problems, careers, physical and mental health. Access to legal clinic. Free condoms, Chlamydia screening, pregnancy testing.

 

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