Pupils protest planned cuts across Argyll and Bute

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On the morning of Wednesday February 20, students across Argyll and Bute staged a protest on their respective campuses against the proposed cuts to Youth and Adult Learning Services from Argyll and Bute Council.

Lochgilphead Joint Campus, Campbeltown Grammar School, Helensburgh’s Hermitage Academy, Oban High School and Dunoon Grammar School all participated in a sit-in at 10.55am which included a video explaining the importance of youth services, chants and other musical protest methods.

The council voted on Thursday February 21 on its budget for 2019/20 which includes a savings option of £330,000 from Youth and Adult Learning Services. At the time of writing, the vote had not taken place.

With a fiery spirit the pupils protested with signs and silence against proposed cuts to youth services that could possibly result in job losses equating to 57 per cent of the current team.

Scottish Youth Parliament member and Lochgilphead Joint Campus pupil Cameron Garrett lit the spark for the region-wide protests through social media.

Cameron said: ‘Initially, I came up with the idea at a meeting on Saturday. A pupil from Hermitage Academy, Rosie Sumsion, got involved and we organised protests for Lochgilphead Joint Campus and Hermitage Academy. We then managed to get pupils from the other schools to get onboard and organise protests.’

Cameron added: ‘We feel youth services are too important to cut funding from. I think it’s extremely important to protest to exercise our democratic right and show councillors that young people do care about the support youth services are providing and we don’t want funding cut.

‘I think, along with a lot of other young people in Argyll and Bute, that youth services are extremely valuable in the support they provide. They can help people when they are down or, personally, support me in my campaign for the Scottish Youth Parliament.

‘The protests were very successful – we hope it sent a message to the council.’

Councillor Sandy Taylor said: ‘It is good to see young people project their voice in this way.

‘Councillors are always keen to hear from their communities and to take those views into account when making often difficult decisions, as is the case when setting budgets.’

Councillor Dougie Philand added: ‘Councillor Donald Kelly and I have circulated our budget proposals and are proposing to retain adult and youth services. It is vital we support those in our community who require such services and hope the other council members will support our budget proposal to retain these vital services.’