AN EXPERIENCED youth worker is bidding to take on Bourne Youth Centre.
The future of the youth centre in Queen’s Road, Bourne, has been uncertain since last year when Lincolnshire County Council announced it was reviewing the way its youth centres operated.
The council said no youth centres would close but said working with voluntary groups and communities as part of a Big Society approach was the way forward.
In January, the council launched a “formal process” for interested parties to take over the running of the centres. It also identified funding to offer grants to groups to cover start-up costs. The council’s children and young people scrutiny committee is due to be updated on its progress today.
One person who has come forward to run Bourne Youth Centre is Ali Rigby, the youth programme manager for Stamford-based youth centre Teenzone.
He said: “I am very excited about it. I would like to think I would be good in that position and I think it is something I could take forward in a positive way.
“I have visited Bourne Youth Centre a few times in the past and I think the building has got so much potential, not just for the youth centre, but to do things within the community. There is a lot of growth.”
If his application is accepted, Ali said he would still continue in his role for Teenzone but would look to extend the number of days the Bourne centre runs. Currently it opens for just one night a week on a Tuesday but regularly attracts about 20 teenagers aged between 12 and 17.
Ali said he had been told to submit an application by May 1.
He said: “There is a long way to go and it is early days but I am very positive about it.”
Bourne Youth Centre’s management committee declined to take over the running of the centre.
Chairman of the management committee Dorothy Alexander said: “We were asked to consider if we could run the centre ourselves but unfortunately we are not in a position to be able to do that.
“We did not feel able to take on the responsibility for the youth workers and their pay and national insurance. It is too much.”
Mrs Alexander said until December, the centre had been open for three nights a week but the county council then decided to reduce its opening days to just one. Youth workers were also reduced from five to two.
She said: “One night a week is not sufficient. If Teenzone or its workers are going to look after the youth and open it on more nights, that would be good for the kids in the town.
“At the moment the kids are a little bit despondent because they want it to be open for longer. I think the youth club is worthwhile because the youth are our next citizens and we don’t want them out on the streets.”
A county council spokesman said there was no set date for a decision to be made on the future of youth centres
County council assistant director of children’s services Stuart Carlton said: “We are in the initial stages of discussions with several parties who have expressed an interest in finding out more about managing Bourne Youth Centre. If those parties wish to proceed they will be asked to demonstrate that they are able to manage and deliver sustainable positive activities for young people.
“The current Bourne Youth Centre management committee has, after much consideration, decided not to bid to run the centre as they feel they are unable to commit the necessary time and resources.
“We are supporting all those who have expressed an interest in managing youth centres.”