Staple Hill’s Labour councillors say that their community's long campaign for a custom-made youth centre has moved a step closer with the provisional allocation of funds for the project. In papers for South Gloucestershire Council’s Resources Committee on 3 March, a sum of £350,000 has been allocated to convert space in the old primary school into a custom-made youth centre. However, Councillors Ian Boulton and Shirley Potts are warning that the scheme is not yet “a done deal” and they will keep up their campaign until the funding is finally approved.
At present, youth services in Staple Hill are run by the local Methodist Church out of their own premises. Everybody involved acknowledges that the space available is far from ideal and that a custom-made youth centre would provide improved facilities for the youth workers and young people in the area that contains South Gloucestershire’s most deprived census areas.
Staple Hill Primary School moved into new buildings in 2011 and the old school is gradually being brought into active use, with a Sure Start Centre and the Little Stars nursery already occupying some of the space. Members of the local community, including the young people themselves, have long campaigned for a new base, actively supported by their local councillors Ian Boulton and Shirley Potts. When the old school became available, this became the preferred venue for the local community. The main obstacle to moving has been finding the funds needed to convert the space into a brand new youth centre.
As part of the recent annual budget negotiations between the political parties on the hung council, Labour proposed the inclusion of funds for the conversion work and £350,000 is now listed in the capital budget for 2014/15. However, this spending is subject to detailed consideration by the Children & Young People’s Services Committee.
Councillors Ian Boulton and Shirley Potts say:
“The Methodist Church does a fantastic job running our youth services and they and our young people deserve decent custom-made facilities for their activities. A new youth centre has been a longstanding aspiration in Staple Hill, and we have campaigned with residents for many years. We are thrilled that we have moved a step closer with a figure now in the capital programme for next year.
However, we are under no illusions that we need to keep fighting on until the scheme is finally agreed. We shall make our case to the Resources Committee when it meets on 3 March and ensure that any detailed consideration by the Children & Young People’s Services Committee is informed by the strength of local opinion.”
23rd February 2014