PARENTS have been stunned by a town council’s decision to close a disabled youth club and sack three youth workers without any public consultation.

Faringdon Town Council wrote to parents on January 22 telling them that it was closing the beloved AAA after-school club with immediate notice, so that week’s club would not take place.

The council has now explained that only seven of the club’s members (about half) came from Faringdon, and it wanted to spend the £8,000 on something that more local children would benefit from.

Alison Bowler, whose 13-year-old daughter Harriet was a regular at the club, said one of parents’ main frustrations was that the town council had not given parents and their vulnerable children any notice about the cut.

She said: “We received a letter on the Tuesday to say the club was ceasing as of the next day.

“Without notice it was shut.

“You are dealing with a group of youngsters who are already vulnerable, who don’t have a voice, and parents and teachers were incredibly upset about the situation: there hadn’t been any conversation about it.”

Harriet, who has a global development disorder, is a pupil at Fitzwaryn special school in Wantage.

Davina Mackay, whose daughter also goes to Fitzwaryn, said the ‘lack of care’ for the group’s members was ‘outrageous’ and the original letter sent to parents a ‘pathetic excuse’.

She added: “For many of the children it is the only social activity they are able to access.

“There was no notice or consultation about this so no one had a chance to negotiate or try and find other funding or ways to run the group.”

Mayor of Faringdon Mike Wise, refused to discuss the issue with this paper.

Town clerk Sally Thurston explained the council was keeping its youth services budget at £20,000 but wanted to provide a service more locals would use.

She said: “This was a difficult decision for the council and one they have not taken lightly.

“As a parish council we are solely funded by the people of Faringdon and, as such, the council’s responsibility is to the young people and residents who live in Faringdon. “Despite extensive effort of staff, the service did not reach many Faringdon young people.” Of the lack of consultation she said the service was ‘fully reviewed by a working party’ and the council ‘did speak to some stakeholders’.

She said the council was now ‘looking at reinstating the Duke of Edinburgh Award’, putting on two ‘play days’ and ‘talking to the police about tackling anti-social behaviour’.

It said it was also running ‘a series of summer activities and workshops across the year’ while other groups will be able to apply for funding for local projects.