South Ashford youth centre closure fears
FEARS are growing over the future of a youth centre in South Ashford.
Kent County Council has been conducting a wholesale review of youth services and is set to pull the plug on Christ Church Youth Centre in Stanhope.
Under new plans due to be given the green light on Wednesday, the county council is scaling back on facilities it has direct responsibility for to just one – Ashford North Youth Centre in Mabledon Road.
But a community leader in the poorer south of the town believes KCC has made the wrong choice.
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Borough councillor for Stanhope Brendan Chilton said: "I'm very concerned that in just a few years youth services in Stanhope have been greatly diminished."
KCC's new model for youth services, which is set to be rolled out at the start of the new year, hinges on third party organisations and voluntary groups stepping in to run services.
A commissioning budget totalling £121,500 is being made available in Ashford, and groups can bid for a share of the cash to put towards their overheads.
KCC has made a commitment that work will continue at the Sk8side facility in the town centre, although in future it will be delivered by a third party.
No such commitment has been made for Christ Church.
KCC's head of integrated youth services, Nigel Baker, defended the decision to make Ashford North its preferred location.
He said: "This facility is one of the newest youth centres in the county and is heavily used by young people during the school day and also in the evenings."
Ashford will have a school-based community youth tutor at Tower's School and "street-based" initiatives.