Fears over future of youth services in Marlborough
4:00pm Thursday 7th August 2014 in By Anna Mauremootoo, Senior reporter for Marlborough and Pewsey
The future of the Marlborough Development Centre in St Margaret’s Mead is uncertain as it closes its doors to young people on August 20.
Activities will start to wrap up on August 11 which will be the last day the centre will offer support to young people with special educational need and learning difficulties through their Bridging Project.
The closure comes after Wiltshire Council’s cuts to the youth services budget led to a wholesale reorganisation putting the onus for organisation onto local communities through area boards.
Councillor Stewart Dobson, vice-chairman of the Marlborough Area Board, said: “At the moment the youth centre is involved with some summer projects and after that the area board is going to be taking over the services but we will have to have a meeting to work out how we are going to do that and that hasn’t happened yet.”
The announcement has sparked fear in the community that there are not enough provisions for young people in the town.
Lisa Farrell, who has been involved with setting up the Marlborough Youth Council, said: “My biggest concern is that there is going to be nowhere for young people to go in the town.
“If it shuts down what is going to happen to the children, has anyone considered that? Where are they going to do and what are they going to do?
“I feel like the youth are being overlooked and that’s something we need to be worried about because it’s as if they don’t matter and we want them to stay in the town.
“As somebody who used to use the centre I remember how amazing it used to be when it was open every day.”
At the moment, the staff at the centre are involved in the centre’s summer programme which will end with a trip to Thorpe Park on August 15 for young people who regularly attend the Youth Centre.
Jan Bowra, youth development co-ordinator at the centre, has been successful in securing the role as one of the new Community Youth Officers which should see her continuing to work within Marlborough.
A spokesman for Wiltshire Council said: “The new approach to youth activities will ensure as many young people as possible are able to access activities they enjoy. Area boards will be working with young people and organisations in their local communities to shape those activities and chose the best locations for them.
“Wiltshire Council is committed to ensuring young people with special educational needs and or disabilities (SEND) continue to have access to a range of activities and is working closely with voluntary and community sector providers for that purpose. Further announcements will be made about this in due course.”
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