WALTHAM FOREST: £300k 'wasted' on youth buses

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Youngsters on a Worth Unlimited youth bus in Leyton. Youngsters on a Worth Unlimited youth bus in Leyton.

A UNION has slammed the council for spending £300,000 on three youth buses - as it prepares to axe 51 jobs in young people's services.

Unison has described the cost, which relates to a period between December 2007 and March 2010, as a shocking waste.

It claims that less than 500 young people in the borough have used the mobile youth centres since 2007.

The council disputes the figure and says more than 820 youngsters have used them in the last financial year - although this includes a service jointly run by Christian charity Worth Unlimited.

Waltham Forest Unison secretary Dave Knight called for an inquiry into the "indulgent" spending.

He said: "Can this £300,000 be value for money while three active youth centres rely on under-paid administrators to manage third-rate buildings?

"The demise of professional youth provision in Waltham Forest is not only shocking but shameful.

"Unison is calling on the council for an inquiry over the procurement and wasteful expenditure that is to the detriment of young people in the borough.”

He added: "Unison is also calling on young people and the wider community in Waltham Forest to question why senior management are cutting professional youth work posts to the most vulnerable of our young citizens while profligate group managers are wasting public money on meaningless pet projects."

Mr Knight said the £300,000 spending included £73,800 on buying the buses, £76,200 on refitting them and £12,330 to service them over three years.

The council's cabinet member for children and young people, Cllr Saima Mahmud, defended the spending.

She said: “In 2009-10 more than 820 young people from some of the borough’s most deprived areas visited the council’s youth buses for advice on employment, education, training opportunities, drugs and sexual health.

“The project has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from young people, residents and the local police, and I know I’m not the only one who values the buses’ contribution to the activities and opportunities we offer the borough’s young people.”

The council is currently consulting on plans to axe 51 youth worker jobs as part of phase four of its “reorganisation” programme.

The authority says it must save £65 million over the next four years due to an unprecedented reduction in central Government funding. Whitehall insists savings can be made without impacting on front line services.

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Comments (15)

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1:19pm Wed 23 Feb 11

Walthamstow noob says...

I'm not sure what's so wrong with dividing £300,000 by 820 to get a figure of £365 per youth that it had to be deleted from the article and the comments.
I'm not sure what's so wrong with dividing £300,000 by 820 to get a figure of £365 per youth that it had to be deleted from the article and the comments. Walthamstow noob

4:13pm Wed 23 Feb 11

Sam Hain says...

I once worked for an authority where a head of service said, in relation to youth provision (I think ironically), that it would be cheaper to give every kid 500 quid and tell them to b****r off. Viewed in this light £365 seems like a positive bargain!
I once worked for an authority where a head of service said, in relation to youth provision (I think ironically), that it would be cheaper to give every kid 500 quid and tell them to b****r off. Viewed in this light £365 seems like a positive bargain! Sam Hain

4:50pm Wed 23 Feb 11

Helen, Walthamstow says...

The young people who visit these buses are likely to be the ones least likely to attend a traditional youth centre, yet most in need of the services provided.
The young people who visit these buses are likely to be the ones least likely to attend a traditional youth centre, yet most in need of the services provided. Helen, Walthamstow

5:14pm Wed 23 Feb 11

Walthamstow noob says...

Sam Hain wrote:
I once worked for an authority where a head of service said, in relation to youth provision (I think ironically), that it would be cheaper to give every kid 500 quid and tell them to b****r off. Viewed in this light £365 seems like a positive bargain!
I suggested that the money could buy each youth any of the current generation videogame consoles with change to spare and it was deleted.
[quote][p][bold]Sam Hain[/bold] wrote: I once worked for an authority where a head of service said, in relation to youth provision (I think ironically), that it would be cheaper to give every kid 500 quid and tell them to b****r off. Viewed in this light £365 seems like a positive bargain![/p][/quote]I suggested that the money could buy each youth any of the current generation videogame consoles with change to spare and it was deleted. Walthamstow noob

7:18pm Wed 23 Feb 11

Public-interest says...

Here we go again with the conflicting information. Unison say “500 young people have used the service since 2007” and “LBWF say it’s more than 820 in the last financial year”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for supporting young people into positive activities.

However for the council to justify the need for.... not 1, not 2, but 3 buses at 300k on top of what LBWF and the local Housing Associations already provide, I would expect to see a little bit more evidence of need than "more than 820 in the last financial year visited the bus” and while you’re at it how about some kind of proof of the positive impact that the service has already had in the community other than Cllr Mahmud’s accolades.

It’s this time of year (Ground Hog Day) when the council start look at their budgets and cry “Use it or lose it”. I say just manage your budgets effectively, try being open and transparent about the decisions that you make and then maybe we wouldn’t need to keep questioning your honesty and integrity.
Here we go again with the conflicting information. Unison say “500 young people have used the service since 2007” and “LBWF say it’s more than 820 in the last financial year” Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for supporting young people into positive activities. However for the council to justify the need for.... not 1, not 2, but 3 buses at 300k on top of what LBWF and the local Housing Associations already provide, I would expect to see a little bit more evidence of need than "more than 820 in the last financial year visited the bus” and while you’re at it how about some kind of proof of the positive impact that the service has already had in the community other than Cllr Mahmud’s accolades. It’s this time of year (Ground Hog Day) when the council start look at their budgets and cry “Use it or lose it”. I say just manage your budgets effectively, try being open and transparent about the decisions that you make and then maybe we wouldn’t need to keep questioning your honesty and integrity. Public-interest

7:19pm Wed 23 Feb 11

Public-interest says...

Here we go again with the conflicting information. Unison say “500 young people have used the service since 2007” and “LBWF say it’s more than 820 in the last financial year”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for supporting young people into positive activities.

However for the council to justify the need for.... not 1, not 2, but 3 buses at 300k on top of what LBWF and the local Housing Associations already provide, I would expect to see a little bit more evidence of need than "more than 820 in the last financial year visited the bus” and while you’re at it how about some kind of proof of the positive impact that the service has already had in the community other than Cllr Mahmud’s accolades.

It’s this time of year (Ground Hog Day) when the council start look at their budgets and cry “Use it or lose it”. I say just manage your budgets effectively, try being open and transparent about the decisions that you make and then maybe we wouldn’t need to keep questioning your honesty and integrity.
Here we go again with the conflicting information. Unison say “500 young people have used the service since 2007” and “LBWF say it’s more than 820 in the last financial year” Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for supporting young people into positive activities. However for the council to justify the need for.... not 1, not 2, but 3 buses at 300k on top of what LBWF and the local Housing Associations already provide, I would expect to see a little bit more evidence of need than "more than 820 in the last financial year visited the bus” and while you’re at it how about some kind of proof of the positive impact that the service has already had in the community other than Cllr Mahmud’s accolades. It’s this time of year (Ground Hog Day) when the council start look at their budgets and cry “Use it or lose it”. I say just manage your budgets effectively, try being open and transparent about the decisions that you make and then maybe we wouldn’t need to keep questioning your honesty and integrity. Public-interest

7:19pm Wed 23 Feb 11

Public-interest says...

Here we go again with the conflicting information. Unison say “500 young people have used the service since 2007” and “LBWF say it’s more than 820 in the last financial year”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for supporting young people into positive activities.

However for the council to justify the need for.... not 1, not 2, but 3 buses at 300k on top of what LBWF and the local Housing Associations already provide, I would expect to see a little bit more evidence of need than "more than 820 in the last financial year visited the bus” and while you’re at it how about some kind of proof of the positive impact that the service has already had in the community other than Cllr Mahmud’s accolades.

It’s this time of year (Ground Hog Day) when the council start look at their budgets and cry “Use it or lose it”. I say just manage your budgets effectively, try being open and transparent about the decisions that you make and then maybe we wouldn’t need to keep questioning your honesty and integrity.
Here we go again with the conflicting information. Unison say “500 young people have used the service since 2007” and “LBWF say it’s more than 820 in the last financial year” Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for supporting young people into positive activities. However for the council to justify the need for.... not 1, not 2, but 3 buses at 300k on top of what LBWF and the local Housing Associations already provide, I would expect to see a little bit more evidence of need than "more than 820 in the last financial year visited the bus” and while you’re at it how about some kind of proof of the positive impact that the service has already had in the community other than Cllr Mahmud’s accolades. It’s this time of year (Ground Hog Day) when the council start look at their budgets and cry “Use it or lose it”. I say just manage your budgets effectively, try being open and transparent about the decisions that you make and then maybe we wouldn’t need to keep questioning your honesty and integrity. Public-interest

8:22pm Wed 23 Feb 11

Sam Hain says...

Not 1, not 2, but 3 postings, Public interest! Just click once and wait 30 seconds.
Not 1, not 2, but 3 postings, Public interest! Just click once and wait 30 seconds. Sam Hain

9:50pm Wed 23 Feb 11

Public-interest says...

Forgive me for my impatience. It felt a bit like when I have to wait for a bus….then not 1, not 2, but 3 come along at the same time.

Humble apologies
Forgive me for my impatience. It felt a bit like when I have to wait for a bus….then not 1, not 2, but 3 come along at the same time. Humble apologies Public-interest

10:54pm Wed 23 Feb 11

EducateCommunities says...

Youth work is vital to providing some kind of engagement to our youth especially the ones that need that extra attention.

But I fail to see how a christian charity can really engage with mostly black youth going by the images and areas they target.

The idea is good but the providers are poor and this reflects in the results.

Cllr Mahmud would blindly defend this as that is her role to justify such things maybe if she spent some quality time actually with the buses she would be able to give a better view of things than the standard council response.

Cutting frontline youth services is short sighted and idiotic, better planning and delivery is what is really needed.
Youth work is vital to providing some kind of engagement to our youth especially the ones that need that extra attention. But I fail to see how a christian charity can really engage with mostly black youth going by the images and areas they target. The idea is good but the providers are poor and this reflects in the results. Cllr Mahmud would blindly defend this as that is her role to justify such things maybe if she spent some quality time actually with the buses she would be able to give a better view of things than the standard council response. Cutting frontline youth services is short sighted and idiotic, better planning and delivery is what is really needed. EducateCommunities

10:56pm Wed 23 Feb 11

Redfox says...

Why exactly has it taken Unison up to 3 YEARS to whistle-blow this occurence?
Isn't that the real problem with our council and its' staff/union members - too lazy or not bovvered enough to dish the wasteage by their bosses?
Maybe if the general public & us caring residents had had such information WHEN COMMUNITY COUNCILS EXISTED we could have taken up this, and many more issues - ascould the Guardian. So tough cheddar Unison and even tougher Cheddar on those staff who knew but "didn't want to know", the latter being the common phrase for council minions who wanted to keep their jobs at the expense of keeping quiet.
Bet you wished you'd spoken out when you had the chance.
Anyone got the info on the waste for the "Defend da Hood" campaign? Perhaps Unison??
Didn't that sort out the problems of Cathall & Oliver Road estates - NOT.
Why exactly has it taken Unison up to 3 YEARS to whistle-blow this occurence? Isn't that the real problem with our council and its' staff/union members - too lazy or not bovvered enough to dish the wasteage by their bosses? Maybe if the general public & us caring residents had had such information WHEN COMMUNITY COUNCILS EXISTED we could have taken up this, and many more issues - ascould the Guardian. So tough cheddar Unison and even tougher Cheddar on those staff who knew but "didn't want to know", the latter being the common phrase for council minions who wanted to keep their jobs at the expense of keeping quiet. Bet you wished you'd spoken out when you had the chance. Anyone got the info on the waste for the "Defend da Hood" campaign? Perhaps Unison?? Didn't that sort out the problems of Cathall & Oliver Road estates - NOT. Redfox

1:26am Thu 24 Feb 11

Seeing Sense says...

EducateCommunities wrote:
Youth work is vital to providing some kind of engagement to our youth especially the ones that need that extra attention.

But I fail to see how a christian charity can really engage with mostly black youth going by the images and areas they target.

The idea is good but the providers are poor and this reflects in the results.

Cllr Mahmud would blindly defend this as that is her role to justify such things maybe if she spent some quality time actually with the buses she would be able to give a better view of things than the standard council response.

Cutting frontline youth services is short sighted and idiotic, better planning and delivery is what is really needed.
A lot of 'black youths' come from very Christian households, actually.

Funny how a service targeting very poor people is automatically seen as a waste of money while the music service mentioned elsewhere is a cause to be championed. If you want to ceaselessly complain how bad everything is, at least get your stories straight!
[quote][p][bold]EducateCommunities[/bold] wrote: Youth work is vital to providing some kind of engagement to our youth especially the ones that need that extra attention. But I fail to see how a christian charity can really engage with mostly black youth going by the images and areas they target. The idea is good but the providers are poor and this reflects in the results. Cllr Mahmud would blindly defend this as that is her role to justify such things maybe if she spent some quality time actually with the buses she would be able to give a better view of things than the standard council response. Cutting frontline youth services is short sighted and idiotic, better planning and delivery is what is really needed.[/p][/quote]A lot of 'black youths' come from very Christian households, actually. Funny how a service targeting very poor people is automatically seen as a waste of money while the music service mentioned elsewhere is a cause to be championed. If you want to ceaselessly complain how bad everything is, at least get your stories straight! Seeing Sense

2:42am Thu 24 Feb 11

Public-interest says...

Effective research into what services should be delivered for young people needs to be developed in partnership with young people, the local community and organisations that “genuinely” support this hard to reach group.

Yes, we need to think out of the box and provide a flexible service that will inspire and engage our young people. However I am frustrated by LBWF taking young people “For a Ride” on their “PIMP my Bus project”. It may well entice young visitors bedazzled by the DJ Decks and the offer of a free Home-made CD. However, after you have registered the young person, taken their alias and post code…what next?…where is the support? The information advice and guidance by competent and trained staff…Oh!! I forgot LBWF have had to let them all go in another efficiency review.

Don’t tell me what I need or assume what I want…ask me!!! LBWF need to commit to meaningful consultation, we used to have Neighbourhood forums and the Community councils. Now we have local authority Kangaroo Court committees with Cllr Three Wise Monkeys that “See, speak and Hear no Evil” and minute takers that get berated for taking the minutes.

What has the world come too……
Effective research into what services should be delivered for young people needs to be developed in partnership with young people, the local community and organisations that “genuinely” support this hard to reach group. Yes, we need to think out of the box and provide a flexible service that will inspire and engage our young people. However I am frustrated by LBWF taking young people “For a Ride” on their “PIMP my Bus project”. It may well entice young visitors bedazzled by the DJ Decks and the offer of a free Home-made CD. However, after you have registered the young person, taken their alias and post code…what next?…where is the support? The information advice and guidance by competent and trained staff…Oh!! I forgot LBWF have had to let them all go in another efficiency review. Don’t tell me what I need or assume what I want…ask me!!! LBWF need to commit to meaningful consultation, we used to have Neighbourhood forums and the Community councils. Now we have local authority Kangaroo Court committees with Cllr Three Wise Monkeys that “See, speak and Hear no Evil” and minute takers that get berated for taking the minutes. What has the world come too…… Public-interest

9:20pm Thu 24 Feb 11

EducateCommunities says...

Seeing Sense wrote:
EducateCommunities wrote:
Youth work is vital to providing some kind of engagement to our youth especially the ones that need that extra attention.

But I fail to see how a christian charity can really engage with mostly black youth going by the images and areas they target.

The idea is good but the providers are poor and this reflects in the results.

Cllr Mahmud would blindly defend this as that is her role to justify such things maybe if she spent some quality time actually with the buses she would be able to give a better view of things than the standard council response.

Cutting frontline youth services is short sighted and idiotic, better planning and delivery is what is really needed.
A lot of 'black youths' come from very Christian households, actually.

Funny how a service targeting very poor people is automatically seen as a waste of money while the music service mentioned elsewhere is a cause to be championed. If you want to ceaselessly complain how bad everything is, at least get your stories straight!
Seeing Sense, please see sense if you believe that black youths in the targeted housing estates are into christianity then good for you maybe their parents are but not sure about your claims. WF is more than 50% Muslim

If christian charities wish to do gods work nothing wrong with that but use christian funds.

This is not about faiths more about service for youths that is why religion should be kept out of this as history shows that it causes more wars than it solves.

Please read my previous statement again as your reply makes very little sense.
[quote][p][bold]Seeing Sense[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]EducateCommunities[/bold] wrote: Youth work is vital to providing some kind of engagement to our youth especially the ones that need that extra attention. But I fail to see how a christian charity can really engage with mostly black youth going by the images and areas they target. The idea is good but the providers are poor and this reflects in the results. Cllr Mahmud would blindly defend this as that is her role to justify such things maybe if she spent some quality time actually with the buses she would be able to give a better view of things than the standard council response. Cutting frontline youth services is short sighted and idiotic, better planning and delivery is what is really needed.[/p][/quote]A lot of 'black youths' come from very Christian households, actually. Funny how a service targeting very poor people is automatically seen as a waste of money while the music service mentioned elsewhere is a cause to be championed. If you want to ceaselessly complain how bad everything is, at least get your stories straight![/p][/quote]Seeing Sense, please see sense if you believe that black youths in the targeted housing estates are into christianity then good for you maybe their parents are but not sure about your claims. WF is more than 50% Muslim If christian charities wish to do gods work nothing wrong with that but use christian funds. This is not about faiths more about service for youths that is why religion should be kept out of this as history shows that it causes more wars than it solves. Please read my previous statement again as your reply makes very little sense. EducateCommunities

6:11am Fri 25 Feb 11

Sandeep M says...

Diet plays an important part of a good upbringing and the junk food on offer does not help with the surge of take aways at low cost urged for the youth community.
Diet plays an important part of a good upbringing and the junk food on offer does not help with the surge of take aways at low cost urged for the youth community. Sandeep M

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