Empty shop sought for new estate youth group

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A YOUTH group for Bury’s Howard Estate may only start if it can use an empty shop because it will not be allowed to use a community centre.

Monday’s meeting of Howard Estate Association of Residents and Tenants (HEART) backed a proposal from a volunteer group with youth experience to create a forum for young people to find out what they want.

HEART chairman Ernie Broom said he hoped they could set up an internet cafe using laptops that have been donated to the association. But he said many people at the meeting were surprised that the Newbury Community Centre barred youth groups.

Community centre chairman Ivy Goodman confirmed: “I don’t care who wants to organise a youth club, they’re not coming in here. It’s not worth the aggro.”

She said the centre had tried a number of youth activities, including a film club, karaoke and summer play sessions.

“It starts all right, then we have trouble,” she said, and complained of damage, drink and drug use and abuse to staff. She said many venues even refuse to take bookings for 18th and 21st birthday parties.

She added: “We haven’t got nights spare: we’re booked five nights a week and the weekends are for things like weddings.”

Mr Broom and ward councillor Bob Cockle both admitted the centre had had trouble. But Cllr Cockle added: “It is a community centre and people said at the meeting it should be for all ages. There is nothing for the youngsters there, apart from the Sea Cadets at the County School.”

He welcomed the volunteers’ proposal and their enthusiasm. He added: “The difference here is that the people who made the presentation have a lot of experience of running youth clubs so the situation is a different ballgame. ”

The presentation was made by Rob Davies, who has worked on the estate before and is a member of a group of youth workers with the Kingsgate Church, who meet at King Edward VI School each Sunday.

He said: “Young people want a space to meet, to get involved, to be creative. When they’ve got nowhere, they’re hanging around doorways and bus stops and older people see them and think they’re up to no good.”