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CONTROVERSY surrounding the future of a proposed youth centre in Sandhurst could soon be settled with a public vote.

Hundreds of consultation forms were distributed to homes last weekend following months of endless dispute between residents and councillors.

Tempers have flared over plans to build a young people's advice centre next to the Coffee Spot in Sandhurst Memorial Park, Yorktown Road.

Townsfolk hope the final votes, to be collected by a Bracknell Forest Borough Council solicitor, will reflect their staunch opposition and put an end to the proposal.

But the borough council is remaining ambivalent about how the consultation results will affect the final outcome.

Speaking on behalf of Sandhurst Town Council, Cllr Dale Birch said: "The council is committed to considering the result, but the reason we cannot say if it will decide the matter one way or another is simply because we are not allowed to prejudge a democratic vote."

The consultation form was called for after huge public outcry against the youth centre proposal.

The residents' main bone of contention is the park's covenant, which was drawn up by the landowner in 1949. It states the land can only be used for recreational use by the inhabitants of Sandhurst.

After this covenant was exposed, several residents associations in Sandhurst joined forces and demanded Sandhurst Town Council upheld the agreement.

But the council says the agreement is already being broken because many activities which take place on the park involve people from outside Sandhurst and do not always conform to "recreational" use.

Both opposing views are presented in the consultation forms, which ask residents to say "yes" or "no" to the youth centre.

Val Crosby-Clarke, chairman of Sandhurst Residents' Association, was optimistic about the consultation.

She said: "I think the consultation will be very effective as it will reflect the feeling of the people of Sandhurst, which is the covenant should be respected.

"The indications are the vote will be against the youth centre. What's the point of having a covenant if it's not upheld?

"I most sincerely hope the council will uphold the final outcome of this — they would be very foolish if they didn't."

But Cllr Birch, of Sandhurst Town Council, said he hoped "the consultation would come down in support of Sandhurst".

He added: "If the youth centre does not go ahead, the council will not be relieved of its responsibilities and we will have to find somewhere else in Sandhurst for it — none of the residents' associations has offered any alternatives.

"This project is part of an ongoing commitment to Sandhurst and to give young people more things to do and someone to turn to, if they need advice."

The deadline for the forms is Friday, June 7.


Charlotte Neal
Chief Reporter (Aldershot)
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Ros Collins
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