Opinion: Youth club needed more than ever

At the most recent Peterborough City Council meeting I accompanied Eye resident and my friend Dale McKean as he presented his petition to save the Eye Community Centre and Library publicly for the first time, writes Peterborpugh MP Paul Bristow.
Paul Bristow MP with Dale McKean before the meetingPaul Bristow MP with Dale McKean before the meeting
Paul Bristow MP with Dale McKean before the meeting

​He did an amazing job putting forward his case for why this community asset should not be sold off by the council.

His speech was moving and he did his village proud.

The centre was named as part of the list the council has produced of assets it is considering re-purposing or selling off.

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This would put the Junior Youth Club, with 60-70 members at risk of having nowhere to go, as well as the Rainbows, Brownies and Girl Guides, which has a further 80 members.

There have been suggestions of moving these junior clubs to other locations in the village but this is easier said than done.

I wrote in my column last year about the importance of this issue when the petition was first set up and I am pleased to see it has now gathered over 1,500 signatures.

After visiting the centre it was clear how much it meant to the people of Eye.

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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!

What an incredible service to the young people of this village.

Eye is a growing village and 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.

Dale made these points clear and spoke well.

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Unfortunately, less could be said of some of the councillors in the chamber.

I was shocked and quite frankly embarrassed at some of the behaviour that took place on the night.

There was bickering and squabbling about whose responsibility it was and whose fault it was - it felt like being back in the school playground.

I’ve heard a lot recently about how the previous administration were ‘politicising’ the council and criticisms of the culture at the Town Hall.

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In Dale’s speech he said, “It doesn’t matter about the politics in this room, it matters about the kids”.

I completely agree. Unfortunately on the night it didn’t seem this way, there was a series of finger pointing and blame games.

I know some will think that it is all like this in the House of Commons. But to be honest most conduct themselves professionally afterwards and the Chamber can be theatre. Not so at Peterborough City Council.

The fact is there is a new administration in power. The responsibility lies with them and when you are in power you have to make big decisions. It is time to grow up.

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I want to see this council do all it can to keep this community asset running an immensely positive service to the young people of Eye.

I would welcome this outcome and I am prepared to do all I can to see it happen.