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£1m boost for children in Deal as youth centre gets go ahead

By Beth Robson

The construction of the new £1 million youth centre in Deal will start in September, giving the district’s teens a purpose-built recreation building for generations to come.

The news is a massive coup for councillors and the Save Linwood Campaign, which successfully challenged the decision to close Linwood Youth Centre, and forced a change of mindset about the needs of our children.

District councillor Pam Hawkins said: “This is a great success for the campaign, supported by the East Kent Mercury.”

The Save Linwood Campaigners were delighted the plans to build a new youth centre got the seal of approval.
The Save Linwood Campaigners were delighted the plans to build a new youth centre got the seal of approval.

District councillor Sue Chandler, who was instrumental in saving Linwood and securing Victoria Park as the location of the new build, said: “I’ve worked very hard with both the district and county council offices to get it to this point and I’m pleased work starts soon on site.”

Dover District Council owns the site and has contributed £200,000 to the cost.

Approval was granted by the district’s planners last Wednesday.

It was in 2011 that the county council’s outlined proposals to cut youth services across the county.

In our district the plan was to close Linwood in Mill Road, Deal, and Aylesham and have a hub in Dover with outreach workers covering these areas.

Cllr Hawkins said: “We were told there would be a three month consultation period – but from previous experience we knew the decision had almost certainly already been taken.

“But we knew we had to try to save youth services across the district.

“Our campaign began with a 3,000 strong petition to save Linwood and Aylesham youth centres.”

The Mercury got behind the drive, and it hit a nerve with residents of all ages.

Generations of people have memories of going to Linwood. The nostalgia prompted whole families to queuing up to sign the petition.

Cllr Hawkins added: “The campaign was strengthened enormously by having the support and backing of the East Kent Mercury and we heard stories from residents who went along to Linwood when it first opened; from couples – now married with children of their own – who met at Linwood; from people who went on sporting trips and adventure trips.”

The new hub youth centre will be built on the former tennis bubble adjacent to Tides.

It will be on one level, and will be a safe haven for teens. With the benefit of a cafe, it will also offer increased light and safety for youngsters using Deal Skate Park.

“It was a wonderful moment when we heard that Deal was to have a new Youth Centre in Victoria Park next to Tides.

“It was a victory for everyone involved in the campaign”.

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