SCHOOL pupils will fight on to save the future of Argyll and Bute’s youth and adult learning services after cuts were confirmed last week.

Hundreds of youngsters at Hermitage Academy – along with other secondary schools in the area – staged a protest against the service being slashed on Wednesday, February 20.

But their pleas fell on deaf ears as councillors voted the next day to approve the savings option, first suggested by head of strategic finance Kirsty Flanagan in December.

The service will now be subject to 17.1 full-time equivalent posts – 57 per cent of its workforce – being scrapped, a move which will save the council £330,000.

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Rosie Sumsion MSYP, a pupil at Hermitage Academy, stated that the battle for the future of the service will continue despite the decision.

She said: “Although we are happy to hear that some areas like (school) crossing patrols have been saved, we were devastated to find youth services had been cut.

“It seemed that with the publicity and masses of support we may have been able to make a difference, but unfortunately we will still lose our incredible youth workers and I worry for the opportunities that will go with them.

“Despite this news we will continue fighting for youth services and are determined for it to gain the recognition and funding it deserves for the life-changing work they provide in the communities.

“We are lucky to have a wonderful group of passionate and hardworking young people who are committed to the cause. We will still #saveABYS.”

All three amendments to the administration’s budget, submitted by Councillors Sandy Taylor, Douglas Philand and George Freeman, contained motions to save the cuts to youth and adult services from taking place.

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However, the administration’s motion was a convincing winner, gaining 21 votes while Councillor Taylor’s amendment was its closest challenger with 10.

During the debate at the budget meeting, Councillor Philand said in relation to adult and youth services: “I have done some asking about and the target groups expressed concern for the young people.

“If that cut is taken, that is the target group who will be affected. It will also impact on the number of adult learners, the number of adult learning choices, and on teaching English as a foreign language in the area.

“It will also see a reduction in achievements, and in activities for young people.”

Councillor Audrey Forrest added: “Young people have said they do not support the cuts. They have emailed us, commented on social media and have held events.

“We are cutting off our own noses by taking this savings option. Whether they are care-experienced young people or are winning awards on a daily basis, we need to be seen to support them.”

Protests were staged at six schools across the area – Hermitage, Oban High, Campbeltown Grammar, Lochgilphead High, Tarbert Academy and Dunoon Grammar.

More than 1,000 people had also signed a petition against the cuts to youth and adult learning services.

Prior to Thursday’s meeting, Argyll and Bute Council had spoken of how years of funding cuts meant that the council must focus on what it had a statutory duty to deliver.

It highlighted the tough decisions that had to be made as the authority worked to deliver a balanced budget and provide sustainable service to its communities.

The spokesperson then said after the decision: “Whatever our budget challenges, we are committed to doing all we can to support our young people and so have ensured that community learning and development (CLD) services, although reduced, will continue to be available.

“We will continue to invest around £1million a year in our CLD services, making it one of the highest funded individual service areas in the council.”