Tag Archives: Woodbridge Youth club

Woodbridge’s Youth Club homeless? Help Just42!

Just42close (2)On Tuesday I was called to a meeting at Endeavour House to be told baldly that Suffolk County Council has decided that Woodbridge’s  Youth Centre (which hosts the popular  youth and children’s work charity, Just42 amongst many other groups and SCC units) will close imminently.

Everyone  who knows Woodbridge knows there has been some form of youth club held at the Woodbridge site ever since it was first built! (And the site has been threatened for some years  – see here for details)

This is a call from me to everyone in Woodbridge to help! After years of cuts to core services, Just 42 remains the only such group left  in our part of Suffolk,  its irreplaceable work  funded entirely by grants and donations. We cannot allow this valuable asset to be lost to Woodbridge !

As a longtime supporter of Just 42 I’m very concerned that we manage to re-house Just42  immediately in temporary accommodation so that there is no break in their valuable services. It’s also important that we start fund-raising at once so that we can rebuild the youth centre on its present site as soon as possible for all users!”

According to Just 42 Manager Caroline Rutherford, landlords SCC “told us that the building is well beyond its design life and  they say they’re concerned over potential health & safety risks in the future.” Although Caroline was not “entirely surprised” that the building will eventually have to close, bearing in mind its very poor state of repair, she was “terribly shocked to be told that we have to vacate the building by the end of August or indeed -in the worst case- in the next 5 days!!”

Basically SCC seem to be saying “we’re afraid something significant over the next year might force closure at short notice’..so  we thought we’d force closure at short notice now…

Extensive research by the parties most interested in the future of the Youth Centre suggests that it is  ideally sited in terms of (public transport/vehicular/pedestrian) access, privacy and recreation for the wide range of groups who use it . We are very short of space in Woodbridge these days, when even gardens are being infilled. There is nowhere else that offers this perfect combination.

Worryingly,  SCC sent out a  Press Release (during their meeting with me!) that was inaccurately headed ‘closure of former community building  – implying to the Suffolk media that the Woodbridge Youth Centre is no longer in use. However this  building is  a very current community building, hosting 11 community groups, hot-desking SCC’s integrated services, the Inclusion team, specialist service, the adoption team and workforce development and the offices of Just 42 as well as one-off bookings which run to the middle of next year.

Amazingly the release made no mention  even of Woodbridge Youth Centre’s most high profile  occupant – Just 42 even though it  supports over 2000 children and young people in the Woodbridge area through itsrange of clubs, projects and a mentoring scheme.

As you know, I celebrated my last election by walking from Felixstowe to Lowestoft to raise funds for Just 42 because it is exceptional! From the hub in the Youth Centre,   Just 42 gives support, advice and help  over a wide area to encourage local young people 10-18 to succeed and fulfil their potential. And Just 42 is not only doing this well and effectively – it is doing it on a shoestring! (Details here http://carolinepage.blog.suffolk.libdems.org/2013/05/23/just-42-weve-raised-nearly-2500/ )

The precipitate sending out of SCC’s press release without informing the many groups and individuals using the building  has caused and is causing extreme  anxiety. Some of the stakeholders  first heard the news via the radio yesterday and the learning disabled members of the Gateway Club were only alerted as they arrived today!  They have used the centre for 35 years. This was an incredibly cruel and uncaring way to break the news to stakeholders!

What has been happening in Suffolk : September/October

Woodbridge Youth Centre: future

You may remember that  I reported in March 2013   http://carolinepage.blog.suffolk.libdems.org/2013/03/12/woodbridge-youth-centre-saved-from-the-dragons-den/ that I had come across moves by various unelected officers at SCC and SCDC to organise the disposal of Woodbridge Youth Centre and sell off the land to the north of the Avenue for development,  without reference to either Woodbridge Town council, or the people of Woodbridge.

At the time, I took this to the highest level and was promised by the SCC CEO Deborah Cadman that any discussion about its long-term future will involve all stakeholders including the people of Woodbridge and our elected councillors.  I was also given to understand that Woodbridge Youth Centre was ‘safe’ and a ten year lease was being proposed.

However last week,  only 18 months later  I was asked to attend a preliminary meeting with SCC officers from resource management and a single elected member who manages to be both SCC deputy cabinet member for Resource Management and SCDC Cabinet member for Resource Management.  The subject they wished to address was the ‘mid-term’ future of the Woodbridge Youth Centre, and the fact that repairs of (max £200,000) being too much, they were looking  to ‘develop solutions.’

Interestingly,  I found  little interest in any other solution than sale of the land and removal of the occupants of the centre elsewhere.

I insisted in including other options – such as raising the money for repair and putting in a bid for the premises (and having them minuted too).

At the first meeting there were no representatives for Woodbridge Town Council, for SCC’s CYP, for the Integrated Youth Service,  or indeed, apart from myself,  any of the local people with an interest in the Youth Centre, in the demographics of Woodbridge or the young people of Woodbridge.

I therefore  asked that subsequent meetings should have representatives of these organisations attending.  I have also said that this issue needs to be brought into the consideration of the Neighbourhood plan, in terms of development, of youth provision, of green spaces and of demographics.

Development proposal: Woodbridge Football Club site

The 25 year lease on Woodbridge Town football club runs out shortly and Hopkins Homes has announced proposals to develop the currently occupied by the club for approximately 95 houses, including affordable housing, a community building and open space. Proposals are that the club itself would move to a Yarmouth Road site at Ufford, meaning that Woodbridge will lose its football club from the town itself, very much as it has already lost its rugby club.

As usual, this will have an adverse impact on young people who do not have access  to cars.

Woodbridge Town FC will be voting on this move at an Extraordinary General Meeting shortly.

As I understand it, if the football club votes to stay at the site it would be able to do so for another ten years. However it loses the chance to have another venue found for it, another clubhouse purpose-built for it  –  and would have to start paying a ‘market rent’ for the site.

There is currently a full public consultation about the planning proposals for the site in advance of an expected planning application by Hopkins Homes in the autumn. I am already having contact from residents with concerns about road access to the proposed development.

Suffolk 1: Students enrolled on the Foundation Learning course

Last year it seemed as if the future of 5 day teaching for Foundation level students at Suffolk 1 was threatened. After some negotiation, all students enrolled in Foundation Learning courses will return to a 5 day week from early October and this will continue for the entire academic year 2014-15. This will be a transitional arrangement. There will be a meeting on 18 November 2014  for  parents and carers  to discuss  what the arrangements will be from 2015.

0345 numbers for Suffolk County Council

From the end of September, the county council is changing all of its 0845 telephone numbers to 0345. The remaining seven digits of the telephone numbers will remain exactly the same. This includes the telephone numbers for people wanting to apply for a school place for their child, reporting a pothole or road defect and the Families Information Service.

Calls to 0345 numbers from landlines and mobiles are included in free call packages. For customers with these packages,  it will mean calling the council on these numbers, does not incur any additional costs. For people not on free call packages, a  call to a 0345 number costs no more than a geographical number (eg. 01284, 01787 and 01473).

However, existing 0845 numbers will not be switched off overnight. There will be a period of time where the 0845 number, and its replacement 0345 number, will both be live. This is to ensure people can still access the services they need whilst getting used to the new numbers. It will also mean the county council only replaces printed materials and liveries when current stocks run out.

All Freephone numbers starting 0800 will also remain unchanged.

October surgery

My surgery will be held this Saturday, 10 – 12 midday at Woodbridge library  as usual.