A PORTLAND councillor has criticised plans to cut youth services in Dorset.

Weymouth and Portland Borough councillor for Tophill West, Cllr Penny McCartney has thrown her support behind the work that youth services do in the area.

People across Dorset are currently being asked to have their say on youth services.

An increasing demand for services and a falling budget means the council cannot continue to support young people in the same way.

Cllr McCartney has accused Dorset County Council of being naive in their decision to cut services.

She said: “On Portland, Royal Manor Youth Club is a valuable service that we cannot lose. Young people need the support from a youth worker, often these hubs are a sanctuary from home, offering a safe haven or just a place to unwind and relax.

“Where would these young people go? The streets. What would that do? Will there be more concerns about anti-social behaviour?

“These hubs provide support, guidance, activities and education. I have witnessed youth workers helping with housing, benefits, bullying pregnancy and health advice.

“Without youth workers, where would a young teen go if they need advice on contraception or help if they are struggling at school?”

Cllr McCartney has accused the council of damaging the futures of young people.

She said: “Dorset County Council are naive if they think that cutting this service will save money, the knowledge and expertise these staff have are irreplaceable, the council is damaging the futures of young people.

“They need one-to-one advice, that is the early intervention, do we feel that private companies can do better? Do we think that a phone helpline is a viable alternative? I hope not.”

Cllr Toni Coombs, Cabinet member for children and young people at Dorset County Council, has reaffirmed that the council cannot continue to deliver services in the way it does.

She said: “Our financial situation means we simply cannot continue delivering youth service the way we do now. By working together more with other organisations and local communities, we believe we can provide a more effective service that not only supports the most vulnerable, but also ensures that young people across Dorset have places to go and things to do.”

There is just under two weeks left for people in the county to have their say on youth services with entries to the survey closing on Tuesday, October 27.

More than 1,400 responses have been received so far with both Cllr McCartney and Cllr Coombs urging people to have their say.

To have your say go to www.Dorsetforyou.com/youth-services-survey/