PRIME MINISTER and Witney MP David Cameron has said he is keen to see people pull together to secure a Witney youth centre.

But anti-cuts campaigners have said the potential closure of Base 33, in High Street, shows his ‘Big Society’ idea is failing in his own constituency.

The youth centre has been hit by more than a 50 per cent drop in public donations in the last year.

The public money is not ring-fenced — as other donations are — and is used to pay rent and wages.

Without it, 75 per cent of Base 33’s work could end.

Support for teenage mothers, health education for youngsters, schemes to get young people into work, and drop-in services are all under threat.

Mr Cameron said: “I am a big supporter of Base 33 — it is a superb local facility, that benefits a huge number of young people, and is an inspiring example of the Big Society in action.

“I am keen to see everyone pull together to ensure that its future is secure.”

He said county and district councillor were working to secure the service, and he would meet trustees at the youth centre this month.

But Cat Hobbs, of Oxford Save Our Services, said: “The recession is causing people to lose work — they are suffering — and of course that is hitting people’s pockets and it is harder for them to volunteer or donate.

“The ‘Big Society’ is a complete fantasy.”

She added: “In the Prime Minister’s own backyard, young people are suffering hugely from his policies.”

Oxfordshire County Council is planning to cut funding to 23 youth centres in Oxfordshire, and use ‘Big Society’ initiatives to finance and run the centres.

Carterton youth centre user Matty Yallop, 17, said: “If something run as well as Base 33 is struggling to find funding, then new youth centres are going to struggle more.”

But councillor Louise Chapman, cabinet member for children, education and families, denied Base 33’s money problems boded badly for the council’s plans.

She said: “Obviously people are finding it hard at the moment, but, given some of the bids we have had in, it seems to me that there is a willingness from the public to come forward with ideas and to provide facilities in the communities.”

She said bids for a council pot for volunteer-run youth centres had attracted £1.2m in bids, adding: “I am very encouraged by what I am seeing.”

Ms Chapman added: “It will be a great shame if Base 33 goes, and I will do everything I can to help them.

“We have got to make sure it does not close.”