The following is an extract from a Derbyshire County Council Meeting held on the 19th June 2012
Question to Councillor B Lewis, Cabinet Member for Young
People from Councillor Mrs G P Reddy.
It was gratifying to note that Councillor Western was quoted as being ‘delighted’ in the Derbyshire Times with our final proposals for the New Youth Offer. The recent consultation carried out by DCC as part of the New Youth Offer was of an extremely high quality, where the views of nearly 4,000 people, 2,500 of them young people were taken into account. Their views have clearly shaped the final proposals creating what is recognised as the biggest transformation of youth services this County has seen for over 30 years and have been widely commended for their quality and breadth. Many officers worked hard and diligently to make this consultation and the subsequent final proposals a success and I’m sure Labour would like to recognise that fact at some point in today’s proceedings.
After much political hyping purely for political gain and creating unnecessary worry for our part-time youth workers and leading to a damaged relationship between the Labour Party and our highly skilled and qualified partners in the voluntary, community and independent sectors, does Councillor Lewis agree that Labour should now seek to rebuild bridges? And that senior officers, Multi-Agency Teams, youth workers and VCI partners deserve the support of all Members of this Council to deliver these exciting proposals for Derbyshire’s young people?
Councillor Lewis responded as follows:-
Yes, I do think they need to build bridges. Indeed, I think the way
they behaved during the whole consultation exercise was deplorable.
They behaved in a way that did not have the best intentions for any affected group that they claimed they were representing, acting for, instead in a way that was designed to maximise publicity for their Party.
Over the last few months I have come across many people involved in the VCI sector who were at the very least sympathetic to Labour politics, or even card carrying members of the Party who said they welcomed what I was trying to achieve. I have been congratulated recently by several who said they were glad I could see past the petty politics of their own Party. I know the Labour Party know this but I doubt they will admit it publicly. Thankfully most of their own members outside of this Chamber are more reasonable than the misguided militant Labour Group opposite. They describe the VCI sector, our biggest deliverer of youth activities as “limping along from one handout to the next”. Consistently they insinuated that the VCI sector could not and would not deliver and were woefully lacking in qualifications, skills and training. Quite apart from being the Party who would like to keep things the same they are the Party that dislikes communities and community groups that help themselves. Big State Labour has shown Derbyshire it is the Party incapable of change, the Party buried deep in 1970s style socialist politics. It is all rather like life on Mars round here. They showed their lack of knowledge about this important sector and what they were capable of. What this consultation has proved beyond any doubt is that this is a qualified skilled trained sector that not only does deliver but wants to deliver more and is ready to deliver. Most critically where Labour has done most damage is with our own staff. They have unashamedly scare mongered creating a climate of fear to meet their own political ends. If one reads the 13 December Cabinet paper not once does it say that there would be compulsory job losses, they took a vague possibility and did all they could to make it seem a reality to serve their own warped political ends. They told communities that their buildings would go; that their community resources would be sold from under them leaving them utterly bereft of facilities. They tried to paint a picture of towns and villages where tumbleweed rolled in the streets and disruptive youths lurked at every street corner causing trouble. They tried to sell the idea that one Monday morning all these buildings would be shut, something they know never would happen. How disingenuous. How dishonest and how shameful. Most shamefully Labour tried to deprive the young people of Derbyshire of getting a better Youth Service by their behaviour. Now it is time to get behind us in creating a better Service or just simply get out of the way.
A supplementary question was asked as follows:-
Given their selfish and unprofessional behaviour, does Councillor Lewis agree that the Labour Party should apologise?
Councillor Lewis responded as follows:-
Indeed I do. I think they owe an apology to all our staff, the VCI
sector, and most importantly to the young people and families of Derbyshire who they tried to scare and misled by their tactics. They were led in this by Councillors Western and Charles and they should apologise I think too to their own Party for their petty misguided game of politics that they tried to play with young people’s lives and for leading their Party into disrepute. I really believe that that is what they have done.
Councillor Charles, now the Labour ticket for the Police and Crime Commissioner in Derbyshire, should in particular apologise for trying to deprive the people of Derbyshire of a better equitable youth offer that benefits all our communities.