Teenagers fight to save youth club from closing as cuts bite

TEENAGERS in Burnley have launched a protest against the imminent closure of their youth club.

Devastated youngsters were told last week Gannow Community Centre youth club would shut at the end of August.

The centre is one of many across Burnley earmarked for closure under £8.4m. Lancashire County Council cuts to the Young People’s Service.

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Members at the club have warned the closure will leave them out on the streets and have vowed to fight the decision.

Young members have already collected a petition of 400 signatures from local people which they hope to deliver to Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle.

They also organised a demonstration outside the Adamson Street centre to drum up support.

Megan Riley (12) who has been at the youth club for two years, said: “When we heard it was going to close we were upset. We don’t want it to shut so we are doing everything we can to keep it open.

“We went round knocking on doors collecting signatures for our petition in the area. Everyone has been very supportive. We are going to see our MP.”

Daniel Hodgson (14) who has been helping the campaign, explained it gave youngsters somewhere to go and do sports, arts, access the internet and meet new people.

He said: “It keeps teenagers off the streets. If it does close we will be bored every day and will be stuck in the house. People can cause trouble when they don’t have anything to do.”

Alex Hyde (14), a member of the club, said: “It is a really good club and it is free as well. We would even pay £1 each every night if they kept it open. Even if it was just open one night a week.”

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Megan added: “There is nowhere else around here for us to go if it closes. It is either Stoops or Padiham but I don’t think our parents will let us go up there after dark.”

County Coun. Mark Perks, cabinet member for young people, said: “Just like every other authority in the country, we are facing up to a very challenging financial settlement. As part of the county council’s drive to save £179m. over the next three years, the Young People’s Service will have to contribute £8.4m. towards the savings.

“The changes we have announced will not only help the council to achieve its target, but will result in better-focused services for young people that will meet their needs and expectations.

“There will be a key centre in each district area in a prime location running as a ‘youth zone’. Each centre will be surrounded by satellite services in each district, including Young People’s Centres and a detached project.”

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Added to that, there will be information, advice and guidance centres – Infocentres – for young people, mainly based in town centre locations. Satellite services will consist of advice and guidance services provided in schools, colleges and other educational and training institutions.