Youth cuts ‘will spark a fight-back' says worker who lost job after 33 years

Worker from The Stowe blasts city council politicians for 'acting like they're at a football match'

Friday, 5th May 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya

The Stowe supporters with Michael Dipple

Supporters of The Stowe with youth worker Michael Dipple, centre, at Porchester Hall in Bayswater  

A YOUTH worker who lost his job after 33 years when the council axed a youth centre’s funding has warned politicians to prepare for a “fight-back”.

Michael Dipple said the Conservative council’s decision to take away youth services from the Stowe Centre in Harrow Road was “stoking up a fire” among a marginalised “underclass”. He blasted “disrespectful” politicians for behaving like they were “at a football match” at Wednesday’s full council meeting.

Mr Dipple, who was made redundant earlier this year, said: “Across the country, when they are making funding cuts, it is always the poor, the impoverished, the ones that need the most support that are hit the hardest. And you have councils like this who try to make out that it’s not true. If you continue to take from people who don’t have, one day they will say, ‘enough is enough’.

Mr Dipple, a long-standing and respected pillar of the community in north Westminster, said he had been shocked by the conduct of politicians at the meeting in Porchester Hall.

He said: “I came down today because I wanted to hear the response from the council regarding funding that was taken away from youth services in Westminster and what the proposals are for the future.”

He said: “I don’t like the way people in politics behave. It is like a football match, they are all jeering at each other. I don’t like that. These are serious issues, they need to be addressed.”

Parents also attended the meeting on Wednesday night, many for the first time. Some were shouted down and told to be quiet when they tried to correct councillors about the centre being open.

After the debate Maureen Tobin, whose son used to go to the Stowe, said: “Michael has done above and beyond what he is paid to do. Young people go to Michael with things their parents couldn’t help with. People have called him with their one phone call from prison.”

Camilla Peters, a supporter of the Stowe, said: “The council were not aware that at the moment The Stowe is not open at all. The children need The Stowe. It is a safe haven. We need that social support.”

Labour group leader Adam Hug had asked a question about funding to the Stowe Youth Centre.

Westminster’s young people chief Cllr Richard Holloway told the meet- ing that removing fund- ing from the borough’s youth centres had been a “difficult decision”.

A Westminster Council spokesman said: “Our priority is to protect the most vulnerable in our society, including young people. As we deal with shrinking budgets we are looking at new and creative ways to maximise our resources.

“We have had to take some difficult decisions on youth clubs, but the establishment of the Young Westminster Foundation will allow us to raise funds in new and innovative ways, linking with local businesses, through their corporate social responsibility plans, to support vulnerable children and young people.”

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