Hopes to save threatened Bognor Regis youth centre

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Potential operators have asked for more information about a threatened Bognor Regis youth centre.

They asked West Sussex County Council officer Carl Burton for more details on the 39 Youth Centre off Glamis Street after a meeting about its future.

The centre is among those the council is no longer supporting because of cutbacks to its youth service. The building has hosted the club for more than 50 years and has played a leading role in the lives of thousands of young people.

Elaine Hodgson, secretary of the club’s management committee, said: “Mr Burton invited people to speak to him after the meeting if they wished to express their interest with a view to taking a lease.

“Several people went forward afterwards to get the details. The 39 Club management committee is very pleased with the outcome as it means the building may still be used for the community and young people.”

The meeting was attended by many, including representatives from the centre’s users, neighbouring St Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Felpham Parish Council chairman Paul English, Jan Cosgrove, the acting chairman of the Number 18 Project, and Inspire Leisure.

Mr Burton explained the council’s preferred option for the building was community asset transfer. It was open to any other interested group to seek this transfer as the club’s management committee had decided to continue youth work differently.

The premises could be available for a nominal rent and any organisation which submits a suitable initial interest will be asked for a full business plan. After the meeting, Mr Cosgrove criticised the county council’s actions in cutting its youth service spending from £16m to £6m in the past few years.

He said: “Years of hard work and experience are being trashed, to put it bluntly. Open-access youth work has proven successful over decades. Many young people with needs have found support in their youth clubs over many years and the loss of generalised open-access youth facilities will deny many access.”

Some 42 centres across West Sussex will be having their support withdrawn and 16 will survive.