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Fire hit youth centre summit result

PUBLISHED: 16:03 05 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:57 30 June 2010

PROGRESS has been made towards saving a Great Yarmouth youth centre, which was at a crossroads after being targeted by arsonists for a second time.

A special meeting was convened this morning between borough councillors, including council leader Barry Coleman, council officers and volunteers from Newtown Youth Centre to find a solution to enable the youth centre to continue operating.

PROGRESS has been made towards saving a Great Yarmouth youth centre, which was at a crossroads after being targeted by arsonists for a second time.

A special meeting was convened this morning between borough councillors, including council leader Barry Coleman, council officers and volunteers from Newtown Youth Centre to find a solution to enable the youth centre to continue operating.

Representatives from North Denes School also attended and their school was discussed as a possible alternative venue for the centre's meetings while its Jellicoe Road site is out of action.

Other possible venues included the Marina Centre and Yarmouth High School, though discussions over these are still at an early stage and council officers and volunteers will be meeting representatives of these sites this week.

The meeting also discussed the possibility an alternative site may have to be found due to security concerns at Jellicoe Road and the impact this would have on plans to bring a new £100,000 unit there, funded with £50,000 from ITV's People's Millions lottery fund.

Mr Coleman said the lottery fund would be asked if the money could be transferred to another site, should the centre move away from Jellicoe Road.

As far as temporary venues were concerned, he said the discussions would determine what activities each venue could accommodate.

“It was extremely useful. Everybody attending felt that it was worthwhile. There were many sub-meetings going on afterwards between two or three partners to see how they could go on, but we felt that it was very useful.

“The main issue was not just the importance of getting the centre up and running again, but also sending the message to the younger generation that good prevails over evil and the message to the community that everybody needs to keep working to get the centre up-and-running,” Mr Coleman said.

Earlier this week youth centre secretary Mr Harding said he expected the centre to be closed for at least six months.

He was called at 6am on Monday by one of the centre's volunteers, Amanda Goodrum, who had seen flames coming from the building while on her way into work.

He said while the previous fire in October was largely contained inside, Monday's blaze damaged much of the converted ship container's exterior, melting the metal and ripping off one of the TV aerials.

“There was just flames coming out of the roof, twisted metal everywhere and lots of smoke. The building is just completely gone. The whole structure inside has buckled and when the firefighters actually got in there it was melting their shoes,” Mr Harding said.

All of the equipment inside was destroyed, except for computers which had been moved to the Haven Holiday Park at Caister following an attempted burglary at the centre last Tuesday.

On that occasion, the intruder removed the entrance gate from its hinges after forcing the padlock and tried to tamper with the door lock and to cut its hinges, despite extra security including new locks.

The new pre-fabricated centre is on order and will sit on the opposite side of the basketball court providing more space and more modern facilities for the centre's 200 youngsters.

The first instalment of the £100,000 cost has been paid.


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