Youth centre faces closure threat

A YOUTH centre providing activities and support for more than 200 youngsters is facing closure unless a new home for its premises can be found, it has emerged.

By Danielle Nuttall

A YOUTH centre providing activities and support for more than 200 youngsters is facing closure unless a new home for its premises can be found, it has emerged.

The CYDS youth facility, which is based off Saxmundham High Street, has just 12 weeks to find an alternative site for its mobile building after the owner of its present land sold it to developers.

Staff at the centre said the only possible substitute is land owned by Saxmundham Town Council in Rendham Road, which is already home to a scout hut and is the proposed site for a skateboard park.

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But they claim the town council has refused to be drawn on whether this is viable and has asked them to find another area instead.

Stuart Watson, CYDS project manager, said: “They (the town council) keep asking us to find somewhere else. We have been looking for somewhere for two years and we have not been able to find somewhere.

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“We have a fantastic building that's ours. If we could just find somewhere to move to we would be set.

“It seems like a delaying tactic. We keep being pushed off. Obviously, there are costs in moving - about £7,500. We need to know in time to find that money to fund the move.”

Last month, a national report by Nestle Make Space revealed Suffolk's spending on youth services, such as youth clubs, after school clubs and education facilities, was among the lowest in the country at just £32 per person per year.

Charities claim there is a major lack of youth facilities available for youngsters in the county.

Mr Watson said aside from CYDS, which allows youngsters to play pool, board games or make use of free internet access, the only youth service available in the town is a youth club open for one evening a week.

“If we are gone, there are only two-and-a-half-hours of work being delivered to young people in the town. It's not enough for the size of a town like Saxmundham,” he said.

“There are lots of problems in Saxmundham. We purposefully target those most at risk of committing youth crime or getting involved in substance misuse. We are working with those who really need it.

“There will be a lot of kids who will be bored and hanging around the street which is bound to cause problems.”

Marian Andrews, town and district councillor, said the town council was doing everything it could to help find another site.

But she said that the Rendham Road land was left to the people of Saxmundham as a memorial for those who fought in the First World War.

“If we were to put CYDS mobile building there I think we would have to ask residents of the town how they felt about that. It might be considered it's not a suitable pace to put mobile premises at this stage,” she said.

“We appreciate it's a very valuable service. We are doing everything we possibly can to help them. They have to appreciate if there is nowhere available we cannot come up with something just out of the blue.

“We know they are providing an extremely good service and a service which is much needed but there are a limited number of spare sites in the town where a mobile building of that size could now be placed. If they can't come up with anything, I don't see how we can.”

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