THE Liberal Democrat opposition group on Oldham Council has called for spending on youth services in the town to be doubled to more than £5.1 million in a bid to combat knife crime.

Leaders say the spending would form part of a total ring-fenced fund of £500 million for local authorities across England for youth services, "providing young people with positive, safe and healthy alternatives to gangs".

They point out that under the Conservatives, council spending on youth services has been cut by £300 million - or 40 per cent - since 2015. And knife crime has risen by 80 per cent over the same period.

Liberal Democrats say they want youth violence to be addressed early on, with youth workers, police, teachers, health professionals and social services all working closely together to prevent young people falling into gangs and violence.

Cllr Garth Harkness, who is also Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Oldham West and Royton said: “We recently had a great motion at Oldham council on tackling youth crime. We have heard about recent young people being killed in London as a result of knife crime. What is less publicised is what is occurring locally.

"I work in a school in Manchester and our school community was affected recently by the death of one of our ex-pupils as a result of knife crime. Knife crime is not a London only problem

"Some 14 per cent having carried a knife is worrying. We say to our students if you carry a knife you are more likely going to get injured and targeted as a result.

"Our youth council wants Oldham Council to ensure there is a broad range of high quality activities available to all young people, that are accessible, regardless of where they live.

"By increasing funding on youth services we can achieve this."

Cllr Sam Al- Hamdani, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate for Oldham East and Saddleworth said: “Too many people in Oldham feel unsafe walking down their own streets.

“But for years, Conservative and Labour Governments have been competing to seem tough on crime, without doing enough to actually prevent it.

“Liberal Democrats will build a brighter future for young people by doubling spending on youth services to over £5.1 million a year in Oldham

“With a Liberal Democrat government, young people will have the support and opportunities they deserve, our local communities will be stronger and people here will feel safer.”