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SANDHURST residents have vowed to continue their fight against a new youth centre which, they fear, will bring vandals, shoplifters and drug users to the town.

The youth advice and information centre, entitled Sandhurst Solutions, has caused months of endless dispute between residents and councillors.

But the project was finally given the go-ahead in March and councillors now hope to see it up and running in the Memorial Park in Yorktown Road by the end of the year.

Resident Janice Ewen, of York Way, fears the town council is inviting a multitude of social problems by allowing the youth centre to go ahead.

And residents in the town have vowed to continue protesting against the scheme.

This week Miss Ewen hit out at Sandhurst Town Council and Bracknell Forest Borough Council, asking: "Why should Sandhurst residents be obliged to take in all the social problems from the surrounding areas?"

She said: "Since funding is going to be received from Camberley, Hawley and other areas in the Blackwater Valley, I am at a loss to understand why all these problems should now be brought into Sandhurst.

"The youth offenders team will be dealing with the vandals, shoplifters and expelled school-children here in Sandhurst, so they will be bringing them in from other areas.

"With the recent police cutbacks, we will not even have the officers to deal with these problems."

Her concerns have been backed up by the Sandhurst Residents Association (SRA), which held a meeting for residents to discuss their fears last month.

This week an SRA press release stated: "The major concern of most of those present [at the meeting] was the likelihood of an escalation of the already troublesome vandalism, drunkenness and bad behaviour problems of the youth on the Memorial Park and nearby areas.

"The concerns expressed were not helped when it was learnt the young people visiting during the day would involve those from adjacent boroughs of Hart, Surrey and Rushmoor, as well as Sandhurst."

But the meeting also revealed that some people felt there was much to commend about the project.

Sandhurst mayor Peter North, who has campaigned tirelessly in favour of the youth centre, defended it by saying: "There is a real need to deal with an array of problems for a large number of young people in our community - this facility aims to do that.

"The problem is real, we need solutions. If the people are so against this can offer a sensible alternative I would greatly encourage them and I still look forward to hearing from them.

"It's very easy to knock other peoples ideas - the hard part is coming up with a better one."

E Councillors gave the thumbs to the £270,000 centre in a bid to provide information, advice and a range of services for the town's 3,400 young people, aged betwen 11 and 25.


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