Youth centre closure fears
TIME could be running out for a youth centre which lost out on vital funds in the television vote last week.Carl Harding, secretary of Newtown Youth Centre in Great Yarmouth said the fight would continue to secure the �50,000 funding for a bigger, more modern centre after it lost out to an Essex-based counselling service in a phone vote to decide which should receive �50,000 from ITV's People's Millions lottery fund.
TIME could be running out for a youth centre which lost out on vital funds in the television vote last week.
Carl Harding, secretary of Newtown Youth Centre in Great Yarmouth said the fight would continue to secure the �50,000 funding for a bigger, more modern centre after it lost out to an Essex-based counselling service in a phone vote to decide which should receive �50,000 from ITV's People's Millions lottery fund.
But he feared it would only be a matter of time before health and safety officers called for the north Yarmouth centre to be closed because the conditions were cramped and dangerous.
He said as well as a lack of space creating the risk of an accident, the children also had to climb steps to get into the building - a metal ship's container raised above ground level, which was difficult in wet weather.
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More than 20 children packed into the tiny Jellicoe Road building on Monday , demonstrating the centre's popularity, despite the phone vote loss. It has more than 200 members.
Mr Harding said: “It is just crazy. There is just no room. Health and safety comes into it and it is not going to be long before someone comes along and says sorry, you are going to have to close.”
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The centre's volunteers are also appealing for help in organising a Christmas party for the youngsters and have pledged to give publicity to any business willing to sponsor the event.
But the disappointment of missing out on the People's Millions was etched on the faces of the volunteers and youngsters who had worked hard to get the centre up-and-running again in time for the phone vote following a devastating arson attack and burglary at the premises on October 27.
The fire destroyed much of the centre's equipment, but the community rallied to replace much of the property damaged or stolen.
Carl's wife Julie, the centre's chairman, said: “We were really devastated and upset about the phone vote. Someone's got to win, obviously and they deserved to win as much as us, but I just know that we are still in desperate need of a new building so we are all now trying to get other funding to get something done.”
One of the centre's users, Arron Carter, 11, of Madden Avenue, Yarmouth said: “I am happy for the Essex charity, but upset that we did not get the money.”
“It is very important we get the new facility. Getting up the steps is very hard for me and the new centre would give me more space and more modern facilities.”
Voters from as far afield as Milton Keynes, Northampton, Canada and Australia were logged last Wednesday to register their support for the centre. Even a soldier serving with British forces in Afghanistan registered his vote.
The Great Yarmouth community had rallied for the centre's fundraising bid with police, local and county councillors and youth centre volunteers distributing leaflets throughout the town on Wednesday. Films of both the Essex and Great Yarmouth charities were shown following an Anglia news bulletin on the same day.
The centre has already received �32,000 from the Norfolk Youth Fund for the new centre.
Anyone who wishes to help with the centre's Christmas party, or who would like to offer help, can call Carl on 07807 007183.
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