Town council supports community bid to take over youth clubs

Bognor Regis Town Council has voted to 'agree in principle' to proposals to bring two disused youth clubs into community control.

Bognor Regis Town Council voted to 'agree in principle' to a bid by Sussex Clubs for Young People which would bring to disused facilities into community control yesterday, but refused to commit any funding until more information comes to light.

The vote took place at yesterday's (December 6) Community Environment and Engagement Committee. Chris Cook, chief executive of Sussex Clubs for Young People gave a presentation to the council outlining his organisation's plans to take control of two youth clubs in Bognor Regis: The Phoenix Centre, on The Regis School campus in North Bersted, and the FinditOut centre on Glamis Street.

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Both clubs lost services following a West Sussex County Council decision earlier this year. A spokesperson said both facilities were 'surplus to requirements' following the redesign of the Early Help Service.

The Phoenix Centre

Mr Cook outlined plans to bring both facilities under community control, allowing them to continue to provide services for young people throughout the Bognor Regis area.

"I'm concerned about making sure these spaces still exist for youth services for years to come and those buildings don't get lost in the mix of what's to come" he said.

"What I would like to propose, with the support of this council, is, in effect, that the town council supports the FinditOut centre being taken over by the existing charity there and the Phoenix Centre being taken over by Rox to run those buildings on behalf of Bognor Youth Services and support us for the long term.

"Partners like UCanSpray Bognorphenia and Crimsham Farm are all looking for places to deliver activities from. These buildings, once they have the sustainable organisation to underpin the ownership of them, could then have a range of partners to help deliver services from within them."

Although the idea was well-received by committee members, there were some concerns about whether the town council could afford to fund the idea. Mr Cook said it could cost 'anywhere between 30 and 35 thousand pounds a year to run each building,' and hoped the town council might help front those costs across the first two years of the project.

"I don't think we can afford to take up West Sussex (County Council's) cuts," said independent councillor Adam Cunard.

"My view is, this council has to make hard choices. If we feel youth clubs are important and it's something we want to get in with, then don't spend £55,000 a year on Christmas lights. You can't have everything."

"There's a massive need for this," said committee chair Wayne Smith. "We've issues of anti-social behaviour come up in full council meetings and this goes some way towards combatting that, so I'd like to hear more from Chris about this.

"Without committing financially I'd like to try and support this at this moment in time."

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