Bognor Regis youth club under threat

A public meeting next week will discuss the future of a well-loved Bognor Regis youth club.

The 39 Neighbourhood Youth Centre on Church Path is set to be closed by West Sussex County Council next year.

This means the charity which runs the 39 Club within the building has to find new premises or a new method of working.

Monday’s meeting will be a way of finding out if a new operator wants to take over the single-storey building. It will take place at 7pm in the centre.

Representatives from the county council and the 39 Club management committee will be present.

Elaine Hodgson, the charity’s administrator, said: “It could be that someone will want to take over the centre and run it as a community hub and we will be able to stay on.

“If that is not the case, we will consider different ways in which we can continue to offer youth work in the town. We have a lot of ideas but, until we have the meeting and find out what people’s ideas are, we can’t develop them any further.

“We expect to be staying in the club for another year.”

The 39 Club has been a popular feature of Bognor town centre for more than 50 years. Generations of teenagers have gone through it for some out-of-school fun. Table tennis, snooker and football were just some of the games which provided them with enjoyment.

But the centre’s future was placed in serious doubt in 2009 when the county council told the 39 Club charity it would be taking away its financial support as a result of the cutbacks in public sector funding.

It gave the charity some £5,000 annually to go towards the building’s upkeep and funded a full-time youth worker. That situation carried on for a further year. The centre’s opening hours were then cut from three evenings a week to one.

The funding for the full-time youth worker was taken away as the centre continued to be run down. It is now open only to young people who have been assessed as being able to benefit from using its facilities, The charity is paying for an interim youth worker until its future becomes clearer.