Minister forgets her policy clothes

Peter Black, one of the policy-wonks so often at the back of Liberal Democrat moves, is busily proving that the Welsh government has no clothes.

To blame is former education minister Jane Davidson, although by now we can shout our complaints at her successor, Jane Hutt.

Mr Black is about to propose that every local authority should be compelled to provide a youth service in its area.

Several decades ago, it seems that providing a youth service was part of the town hall’s job. But as this was hardly a vote-grabbing issue at elections, the service got gradually whittled away in most areas.

Mr Black has been inspired by the KPC (short for Kenfig, Pyle and Cornelly) Project in Bridgend which provides a wide variety of facilities which local youngsters love. Now, having won yet another ballot to propose a Legislative Competence Order, he is to propose that every council must provide a youth service, with suitable plans having to be approved by Cardiff.

It sounds excellent. Should do at least something to curb youth crime and yobbishness.

Except that we’ve been here before. In 2001 the Welsh Assembly voted that a new statutory entitlement be created for youth support services. This would involve the appointment of 3,000 new youth workers. A think tank would be set up to decide where to go.

And where has the Assembly gone ? Precisely nowhere. Ministers and civil servants have parked the entire issue on the highest shelf they could find in Cathays Park and forgotten all about it.

It should be interesting to hear what Ms Hutt has to say when replying to Mr Black. Perhaps she will say his ideas are the best thing since sliced bread. And then appoint him as a one-man think tank !

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