Further talks are set to be held on the future of 39 youth clubs in Gwynedd threatened with closure.
Protesters against the decision to replace them with one club for the whole county rallied outside Gwynedd Council’s Caernarfon headquarters on Thursday. Almost 6,000 people have signed a petition against the proposed closures, which were due to take place at Easter.
The cabinet originally voted in favour of the plan in March in a bid to save around £270,000 from its budget – the single club for 11-19 year olds would be run by youth workers based in local secondary schools.
But campaigners have accused the council of running a ”misleading” public consultation over the future of Gwynedd’s youth services late last year – and warned they could consider legal action if the community clubs are shut.
In a statement ahead of Thursday’s council debate, ‘Cadw ein Clybiau’ (Keep Our Clubs) said the plan for a countywide youth club was a ”vague system” based on high schools: ”The number of full time youth officers employed centrally by the council will rise…and their wages will rise. But this is at the expense of sacking qualified and experienced youth workers who work in our communities…those at risk of losing their jobs are the exact same workers young people turn to and trust as leaders within the youth clubs and their communities.”
“Closing these clubs would be fatal for the Welsh language by reducing the opportunities for young people to use the language. It will also affect the whole community as young people will have nowhere but the streets to socialise with each other in the evenings…it will have a terrible impact on the young people themselves as they lose a safe place to receive support from independent adults they can trust.”
The meeting voted in favour of a motion from Llais Gwynedd councillor for Tremadog, Alwyn Gruffydd, calling for the ruling Plaid Cymru cabinet to rethink its decision.
An amendment from Pentir councillor Menna Baines (Plaid) was also passed, urging further talks with town and community councils. She also called on the cabinet to consider the impact of the move on deprived parts of Gwynedd and the Welsh language.
The council previously argued that the current service was not ”an option for the future”, but that it could mitigate the negative impact on young people.
The sole youth club for Gwynedd is due to start in September if the council decides to press ahead with its plan.