Councillors approve £6.6m makeover for Brighton Youth Centre
A dilapidated youth centre can be completely refurbished after councillors agreed to provide a grant on top of government money.
Brighton Youth Centre, in Eastern Road, was described as “falling apart” by Brighton and Hove City Council’s executive director for children, families and learning Deb Austin.
The council’s £2.3 million match-funding grant would be added to the £4.3 million secured from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, through the Youth Investment Fund.
Youth workers and young people gathered outside Hove Town Hall before the council’s Policy and Resources Committee met there yesterday (Thursday 16 March) to show their support for the centre.
Labour south stronger “governance arrangements” for the refurbishment – and the creation of a central youth hub for the whole city which would involve £150,000 in annual funding from the council.
The joint leader of the Labour opposition, Councillor John Allcock, said that youth services were not a statutory service but he was proud of how the council had kept “recognisable youth services” going in partnership with community organisations.
He raised concerns about the lack of a business plan in a report to councillors but was told that there was enough revenue to keep the project financially afloat.
Councillor Allcock said: “There are some worrying indications that this could be another high-value shiny Green project that’s only one mile away from another vertical Green venture that we know is experiencing challenging times.
“I’ve spoken with some neighbourhood youth providers who have not exactly expressed confidence in the ‘hub and spoke’ model and the significant investment we are being asked to give to one project today.
“They are particularly concerned, as am I, about the accessibility of this hub for those who live in the less central areas of our city.”
The plans for youth services involve having a “hub” at Brighton Youth Centre, with smaller projects in suburbs such as Moulsecoomb, Portslade and Hangleton.
Conservative group leader Steve Ball backed Labour’s proposals for the grant’s legal documents to include assurances aimed at protecting the council’s investment, improving support for other youth organisations and strengthening governance arrangements.
Councillor Bell was also concerned about the lack of a business case and wanted to be sure that due diligence was carried out.
He said: “We will be making sure this goes through. I don’t see how we cannot celebrate over £6 million of investment in the youth of our city.
“We talk about trying to encourage them to become more involved. We hold so many different events in this council, trying to get people involved. We have the youth. They are our future.”
Green councillor Hannah Allbrooke, who chairs the Children, Young People and Skills Committee, said that the project would benefit young people and would make the youth centre building more accessible. It currently has no lift or step-free access.
Councillor Allbrooke said: “This is a clear good for young people. It is an investment in young people and their future. We shouldn’t be seeing this in terms of what it is going to do to the council, what’s the financial situation.
“Of course, we have to consider that, but we also have to consider the benefit for young people where right now they have a building that isn’t the right standard that youth work should be provided in.”
Councillor Allbrooke said that new services were coming to Portslade and Moulsecoomb, with the 67 Centre being rebuilt as part of the Moulsecoomb hub scheme along with 212 council homes.
Brighton Youth Centre started as Brighton Boy’s Club in 1917 in John Street, when it was known as St John Street.
The service moved into a purpose-built youth club in Edward Street and opened to girls and young women in 1977.
Today the youth centre offers a wide range of activities and services to children and young people from 5 to 19, with a focus on teenagers – the 13 to 19 age group.
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Good, but that seems an extortionate amount of money for a refurbishment.
Did they go through a proper tendering process?
Wow, what a huge amount of money! Great for young people. Still don’t understand how we haven’t had enough money to keep the Pavilion toilet open, though, or the ones at the Level. Young person need those facilities, too!