Government accused of dithering over Chesterton youth centre grant

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07 Dec 2010

Newcastle MP Paul Farrelly has accused the coalition government of causing six months of uncertainty before finally approving funding for a £4.4 million youth centre at Chesterton.

Mr Farrelly said the government’s belated announcement this week- that money long earmarked for the new centre can now be spent - was “welcome, but long overdue.”

“Local people, and particularly the youngsters who have been so involved in developing this project, will be pleased that the government’s dithering is over at last. It will come as a relief for people to discover that the grant awarded when Labour was in office can now be spent, after all,” Paul said.

Confirmation of the funding approval came in a letter from Tim Loughton, the Junior Minister for Children and Families. Despite the six-month delay, and further scrutiny since the government’s recent Comprehensive Spending Review, the minister said he hoped the project’s sponsors now had the clarity they needed to go forward.

The Chesterton scheme was launched two years ago when local youngsters complained to Staffordshire County Council about the poor state of youth facilities available at the former Victorian youth centre on London Road.

The Council responded by working closely with the children devise the bid for grant aid which was approved by the Big Lottery fund, under its ‘myplace’ programme.

As well as helping with the bid, local teenagers also assisted with the design of the new state-of-the-art centre and the range of services it will offer. These will include a new sports hall, fitness and dance studio, an arts and crafts zone and an IT suite.

Mr Farrelly added: “The youngsters have been at the heart of this project and will continue to play a central role in shaping the activities that the centre will offer.

“I understand, too, that their involvement has now led to the development of two more grant applications for arts and heritage lottery funding which will enable them to provide even more facilities from the new centre when it opens.”