THE leader of Worcestershire County Council has defended his stance on youth funding - and is blaming the economy for making cuts.

Councillor Adrian Hardman has also hit out at the county's Liberal Democrat leader, saying her glass is half empty.

As the Advertiser previously reported the council has delayed a plan to cut £500,000 from youth activities in 2015/16.

But the following year the spending, currently set at a total of £1 million per annum, is scheduled to reduce to zero.

The authority wants outside organisations like district councils, the police and schools to pick up the slack and believes delaying the initial £500,000 cut will give providers time to prepare.

Earlier this month Lib Dem group leader Councillor Liz Tucker said she was "deeply worried" about it and is trying to get assurances some of that cash will still be saved.

The county council used to spend more than £3 million on youth funding as recently as 2011, with 20 centres reducing to just 12 since then.

The Conservative leadership says repeated surveys have placed youth funding low down the priority list for residents, and has refused to guarantee any cash will remain in two years time.

The £1 million is handed to 23 different organisations which provide youth activities, reaching 10,000 young people.

Cllr Hardman said: "I can understand why Cllr Tucker wants absolute certainty over the future, but 20 months is a fairly long period from now to give guarantees over a non-statutory service.

"We still have an enormous amount of heavy lifting to do to get the economy back to stability.

"The fact is, we are putting £500,000 back in so we can take our time to talk to our providers - we are delaying taking that money out so we can provide some stability."

He said Cllr Tucker was being too negative, saying her glass is only "half-full" whereas his is full.

Cllr Tucker said youth workers can't live on fresh air and is concerned they will walk away if the money dries up.

"It's not just about playing cricket, it's about having access to youth professionals," she said.