No more teenage deaths: extra £500K to protect young people in new Islington Council budget

Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council

Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council - Credit: Archant

Islington Council has pledged extra spending to keep young people safe - after losing three teenagers to stabbings last year.

Announcing its 2016/17 budget proposals to the Gazette yesterday, senior Cllrs Richard Watts and Andy Hull said an extra £500,000 will be spent on mentors with a “strong track record” of turning vulnerable young lives around.

All existing youth service budgets will also be protected for the next four years.

But it comes as the authority reels from further government cuts - £25m in the last year - and will mean a 1.99 pc increase in council tax: 75p a week extra for an average band “D” property.

Last year, three teenagers: Alan Cartwright, 15; Stefan Appleton, 18; and Vaso Kakko, 17, were stabbed to death in the borough, while knife crime was at a five-year high since 2010.

And Cllr Watts, leader of the council, said: “We have to choose the right areas to spend and the big priority in our borough is how to keep young people safe.

“We have had three tragic deaths through knife crime, not to mention other incidents. It’s quite clear from talking to parents that this is a big issue.

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“So we have found extra money to invest in new services for young people, particularly those at risk of being drawn into gangs.

“We think it has added up to something that will make sure young people are kept safe, regardless of their background.”

In addition to the council tax increase, the authority is to introduce a charge for bulky waste collections from street properties, as well as over £22m of cuts and reductions in 77 other services.

The council will also make around 100 redundancies from its 4,500 staff, although about 80 have already been earmarked as voluntary.

Cllr Watts added: “There are a number of things that we think will cause some pain to residents and we are very sorry about that. But that is the position the government has put us in.”

Asked how long Islington can manage to withstand government cuts, Cllr Hull, executive member for finance said: “Reserves (which have been reduced from 5 pc to 4 pc this year) get us over the hump of government cuts. But we can’t keep going on like this and we have a medium term strategy to see us through.”

The budget will be discussed at a meeting of the executive tomorrow, as well as two scrutiny committees over the next month. Residents can still have their say and the final document will be passed at a full council meeting on February 25.

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