Wolverhampton Council leader vows to protect children's services
A council leader has pledged to do everything he can to protect children's services which had been the "first to go" amid budget cuts.
Councillor Ian Brookfield, leader of Wolverhampton Council, said giving youngsters the best start was his "number one priority".
It comes as a new £677,000 scheme, which aims to listen to young people and find out what they want, received backing.
The Youth Engagement Strategy (YES) will see a city-wider youth engagement team set-up to better connect with youngsters.
A new fund will be created, with a Dragon's Den-esque format set up where youngsters can flag up ideas and bid for funding.
And better access to information – detailing what events and activities are available in the city – will be developed.
Councillor Brookfield said: "Thanks to everyone involved in this strategy, from all the departments.
"To have 12,000 young people speaking to you about what they would like to see is incredible.
"Gone are the days where we will decide for them – it's finished under this particular strategy.
"They want different things from what we used to want and, for the last 10 years, the easiest place to cut from has been the children's budget.
"They have been the first to go and we're now talking a seven-figure commitment that this Labour council is going to do for our kids.
"We are going to do all we can do to protect our children and if we can't do that then there's no use to us being here.
"This is our number one priority for this year, next year, the year after and the year after that."
Councillor John Reynolds, the city's boss for children and young people, said the scheme would allow youngsters to have their say – rather than adults.
The project will be funded through various grants handed to Wolverhampton Council and the authority's cash reserves.