CONTROVERSIAL plans to close the Castlegate youth advice centre and move its services into council HQ have been stopped in their tracks after a campaign to save the site.

Councillors last night voted to reject a decision made by their senior colleagues, when the cross-party Corporate Scrutiny Management committee met to debate a "call-in" of a decision to move cut down services into West Offices. In the first significant meeting since the political changes to council committees, both Labour and opposition members voted together to reject the earlier cabinet decision.

Protesters from the York People's Assembly gathered outside the council offices ahead of the meeting, including young people who had used Castlegate's services and wanted to show support for the centre.

Protest organiser Graham Martin said: "It is clear that this service in important to people. Sixteen to 25 year olds get a lot less money than other age groups, and young people have been badly affected by Government policies."

Public speakers told the committee how important the services are to many young people across the city, and Heidi Haywood, the manager of voluntary sector youth centre Door 84, spoke of concerns for strain cutting services from Castlegate would have on other providers.

"Door 84 is a very busy service, which probably reflects the decreases going on in other services. My concern about Castlegate is for the people who use it - they are very vulnerable and often it is their first point of contact."

And while West Offices is a beautiful building, she added, it is not suitable for a young people's service.

Cabinet member for finance Cllr Dafydd Williams told the meeting he would be happy to see the matter sent back to cabinet for further consideration, but challenged to opposition members to come up with alternative ways of saving the money that needs to be cut from the budgets.

He said he knew the council was living in "different times" meaning the case would inevitably be sent back to the cabinet for reconsideration and added: "We will reflect and listen to the public views."

The debate also heard from the calling-in members Cllrs Ann Reid and Paul Doughty, cabinet member for education, children and young people Cllr Janet Looker, and director of children's services, education and skills Jon Stonehouse.

Mr Stonehouse said the proposals for Castlegate focus on retaining the statutory services the council is legally obliged to offer, and would save £200,000 - 10 percent of that from building costs.

But the 11 members of the committee voted unanimously to ask the cabinet the reconsider the future of Castlegate and its services.

They called for more options, including different locations and alternative funding, to be investigated.

Speaking after the vote, Cllr Looker said she was not confident an affordable alternative to the West Offices plan could be found.

She added: "I have to balance the budget by April 2015. If someone finds me £200,000 I am happy to look at it, but I am not hopeful."