SWINDON Council has been warned that cuts it is making to its youth services might lead to problems in the future.

The warning came from the Children’s Commissioner For England, Dr Maggie Atkinson, who visited The Platform Youth Centre in July and saw some of the services that are now in the firing line.

Staff from Connexions, which offers careers advice, and Youth Services, which runs youth clubs and drop-in sessions, have been told their departments will go.

Instead, there will be a new department that will offer advice to youngsters deemed particularly in need, rather than to all young people.

Dr Atkinson said: “I was encouraged by the inspiring projects and events that take place at The Platform to engage young people in Swindon.

“It is understandable that many communities in England are concerned about the impact of the spending cuts on local services.

“When considering funding decisions, it is really important that authorities do not just protect the services they have to provide for children by law but they also think long and hard about the additional community services they provide.

“It is often the community ones that are first in line for closure but we should acknowledge that doing so may store up problems for the future."

Staff from Connexions and Youth Services were told in a meeting on Monday, November 10 that there would be cuts of about 60 per cent to their departments.

But full details on where the cuts will fall will not be made clear until the end of the month.

A member of staff, who did not want to be named, said: “A 60 per cent cut is pretty huge. I don’t think people realise what’s these cuts will mean. There will be a lot more youths out on the streets.

“There is lots of good stuff going on to help young people and keep them off the streets in the evenings.

“I think the timing just before Christmas is also pretty bad.”

A spokesman for Swindon Council said: “The Children’s Commissioner’s comments highlight the excellent work that goes on at The Platform, and why it is central to our future work with children and young people.

“The fact that we need to find more than £700,000 in savings does not mean that this work won’t continue – in fact we want to build on what we’ve already got.

“However, it does mean we are having to look very hard at ways to keep our costs to a minimum.

“Staff in Connexions and the Youth Service have been briefed with more details of proposals which will involve a complete re-organisation of both teams to form a more integrated service.

“It will continue to provide information, advice and guidance to young people, moving towards a more targeted service rather than the general service which is offered at the moment.

“At this stage it is not possible to know how many posts will be affected, but we will be in a position to let staff know more at the end of November, when the proposals will have been developed further.”