Two Bognor Regis youth clubs have officially been closed this week, despite ongoing attempts by councillors and residents to transfer use of the facilities to community organisations throughout the town.
The fate of the Phoenix Centre, Westloats Lane, and the Find it Out Centre, at Church Path, near Glamis Street, have been in discussion since last year, following a decision by West Sussex County Council to close children and family centres all over the region.
“It is utterly shameful how the council is treating its young people,” said county councillor Francis Oppler (LDem, Bognor Regis East), also an Arun councillor.
“Over the last ten years, West Sussex Youth Services have been devastated by cuts.
“I would like to see these two buildings transferred to a youth orientated organisation on a Community Asset lease at nil rent. They are valuable community assets that must still be there for the young people of the town, no way should the council try and raise revenue from them.”
Mr Oppler’s words echo hopes that Sussex Clubs for Young People, which organises sport and leisure activities for young people throughout the county, would take charge of the facilities, after Bognor Regis Town Council backed a community right to bid on the facilities initiated by the group.
A spokesperson for West Sussex County Council said both facilities will be ‘surplus to the service requirements’ following the county council’s decision to redesign the Early Help service: “The options appraisals for the future use of the Bognor Find It Out and Phoenix Centres are still under review as the matters are quite complicated,” the spokesperson continued.
But the book isn’t closed on the youth centres yet. The spokesperson said there have been expressions of interest in the buildings from a number of local organisations. The council plans to explore these options with stakeholder meetings in the near future.