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Sandhurst youth centre scheme abandoned - by JOHN WALTON

PEOPLE power hit Sandhurst on Thursday when the town council jettisoned its plans to have a young people's advice centre on land at Brookside Meadow in the Memorial Park.

The decision, taken by 13 votes to three, was greeted with a storm of applause from around 100 residents who had crammed into the Kitty Dancy room for the meeting. During a sometimes rowdy meeting the trio who wanted to go ahead, Couns. Peter North, Dale Birch and Bob Piggin, faced boos, catcalls and threats that they would not be re-elected next time.

It followed on a "referendum" taken last month when 2381 people voted against the scheme with only 236 in favour.

Coun. Nick Allen, who proposed the U-turn, said the town council had promised to review the matter after the consultation and the result had been overwhelming. He did not believe that this had been attributable to the controversy over whether the covenant on the land would allow it.

Coun. Allen said not having the youth centre would be a loss to the community as would the £250,000 building, to have been provided by outside funds.

Coun. Birch said there was an urgent need for youth facilities in Sandhurst and that some of the comments made by opponents had been hurtful. "I want the community to understand what it has lost," he added.

Coun. Piggin said he abhorred the behaviour of small sections of the town's youth but the way to get rid of that behaviour was by help and support.

Greeted by groans and boos, former Mayor Peter North said he wanted to leave the door open. He hoped the residents' associations would work with the town council on possible solutions to the problem.

Coun. John Mason did not believe that the council and the residents were as far away as the residents' associations believed. A survey by the previous Sandhurst administration had shown 80 per cent in favour of a youth centre -this had led to the Coffee Spot and that had not worked. He said that a line had to be drawn under the present proposals and at some time in the future the problem had to be readdressed with the support of the residents.

A petition was presented to the council signed by over 200 youngsters from Bracknell Forest calling for the scheme to go ahead.


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