Prospect of Great Dunmow losing its youth centre is “appalling”

GREAT Dunmow could see a rise in anti-social behaviour if its youth centre is forced into closure, councillors have warned.

Dunmow town councillors fear the North Street facility will be shut because it is in the “wrong postcode” and could suffer in Essex County Council’s re-organisation of its integrated youth services – a move which is aimed at saving �7million from March 31.

Nine members of staff will be axed at the Dunmow centre and, although the county council will neither confirm or deny whether the facility itself is to close, the Broadcast understands it is on the chopping block.

However, at a full town council meeting last week councillors insisted the centre is a fundamental amenity, welcoming between 40-70 teenagers on a Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evening, and unanimously decided to try to find a way to keep the centre open – possibly even by funding it.

Cllr Michael Miller said: “This area is fantastic as far as anti-social problems with young people are concerned, which is why the county council must think we don’t need the centre. I am very concerned that if the centre does close we could have a lot of problems on our hands.”

With ongoing consultations for housing development and the likelihood of Dunmow expanding on the table, Cllr Milan Milovanovic called the prospect of the centre closing “appalling”.

He said: “Facilities for teenagers are scant as it is. If we lose the youth centre, we don’t know what will happen to the town.”

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Cllr Neil Tuttlebury, who works as a part time youth worker at the centre, explained that the county’s youth fund was split into four parts – and said that west Essex “has drawn the short straw”.

“In the last nine years the youth centre has had two Ofsted reports – one of which highlighted Dunmow as a flagship way to help young people,” he said. “Now it is being taken away because we live in the wrong postcode.”

• WHAT do you think? Should the youth centre be saved? Should more facilities be provided for young people? Email your views to michael.edwards@archant.co.uk

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