Urgent call to re-open Sidmouth’s youth centre

Sidmouth Youth Centre. Ref shs 0826-40-14TI. Picture: Terry Ife

Sidmouth Youth Centre. Ref shs 0826-40-14TI. Picture: Terry Ife - Credit: Archant

Campaigners are calling for urgent action to reopen Sidmouth’s youth centre - as reports of antisocial behaviour rise.

The centre was closed in October due to funding cuts and now Sidmouth Town Council has set up a working group to address the situation, but there are calls for faster action.

Youth centre campaigner Alfie Weaver said: “I think the working group that has just been set up is a fantastic idea, but I think you should open this up to members of the public.

“We are in a position where there is a great deal of secrecy and there is a big question mark about what is going to happen with the centre. I think this is a public issue and it is urgent that something is done.”

Sidmouth police sergeant Andy Squires says he will support any moves to create a hub for youths in the town.

“We are experiencing more antisocial behaviour, especially around the former youth centre, where they still congregate, even though there’s nothing there now,” he said.

The police are currently maintaining a high-visibility presence in the area, but Sgt Squires advised there needed to be a longer term solution.

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Speaking at the town council meeting on Monday, Councillor Christine Drew said she feared Sidmouth was getting left behind, as the Honiton youth centre had already reopened, but Cllr Stuart Hughes dismissed these claims.

“It is a little bit of a red herring to say that Sidmouth is behind anybody else because it is not,” he said, explaining that existing church-run groups in Honiton had relocated to the former youth centre.

Cllr Hughes said he has been in talks with groups, including the Salvation Army and YMCA, about reopening the centre.

“I would have hoped that we would have the youth centre doors open in January in Sidmouth,” he said.

“Lets get the centre open and let’s get back in business. The sooner it opens its doors, the better.”