Opinion: Youth centre is a vital village hub

Youth clubs offer an opportunity for young people to get together, make new friends and socialise, writes Peterborough MP Paul Bristow.
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It often gives children and teenagers a sense of belonging in their community, providing a safe space for them to learn and keep out of mischief.

I recently visited the Eye Youth Centre and Library with local community champions Lilian Muxlow and Dale McKean.

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The Junior Youth Club is open there on Fridays 6:30 – 8.30pm during term time for 9 to 12-year-olds and the attendance is usually between 60-70 youngsters.

Paul Bristow MP signing the petition to save the Eye Youth Centre.Paul Bristow MP signing the petition to save the Eye Youth Centre.
Paul Bristow MP signing the petition to save the Eye Youth Centre.

They hold a variety of events there including discos, karaoke, craft events, bingo, pool, outside football, large rope skipping, game stations and much more.

They even have a little Tuck Shop to purchase sweets and drinks and the Youth Club welcomes 16 to 18-year-old volunteers doing their Duke of Edinburgh awards.

It’s a fantastic, thriving community hub for young people in Eye.

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That is why I was saddened to hear it was among the list of 79 Peterborough City Council Assets that could potentially be sold.

When I went to visit the Centre, I heard how Lillian had been working with the youth in Eye Village for more than 40 years and has been running the Junior Youth Club on a voluntary basis for 18 years!

This is an incredible service to young people in the local area and she more than anyone, along with Dale know the value of the Youth Club.

That is why they have set up a petition to save the Youth Centre building, which has already received hundreds of signatures, including my own.

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Eye is a growing village, in the last 10 years there have been seven large estates built, bringing new young families and many more children to the village.

The resources there are already stretched, this Youth Club is and will be a vital hub for the community as the village continues to grow.

If sold, there are suggestions of moving the Youth Club to the Manor Farm Community Centre but this is totally impractical.

To start with the Centre is only free one evening a week and there are other clubs that would also need to relocate including Brownies, Rainbows and Girl Guides, who currently use the Youth Centre as well as the Youth Club.

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The library would also need to relocate and this would create yet more problems.

I understand the council need to balance budgets and the sale of some assets is sometimes a way of achieving this, but this decision is wrong.

It is a political decision and I will hold the new Labour backed independent administration to account when I think they have made the wrong decision for my constituents.

The Youth Centre is clearly thriving, it has been a pillar in the community for generations, and the sale of it would be short sighted.

I urge the Peterborough City Council administration to rethink this and secure the future of this community asset for the decades to come.