Fittleworth youngsters vote in favour of youth club

Facilities for young people in Fittleworth was on the agenda when a public meeting was held in the village.

About 30 adults attended as well as five teenagers, eight parish councillors and police community support officers Jenn Morley and Ian Luxford.

The meeting was organised by the parish council and chaired by parish councillor Mark Saunders.

The council acknowledged past problems arising from lack of activities for young people in the village, but said it wanted to move on and help them regain a sense of purpose, respect for their community and pride in their own achievements.

Peter Stenning produced a set of photographs with a sketch illustrating where a youth shelter might be located and a brochure showing the type of structure envisaged.

It would cost about £9,000, for which substantial grants might be available.

But there were objections to all the sites under consideration and the young people themselves said they would prefer a BMX track more than a shelter as Hesworth Common was an SSI and out of bounds.

Matt Guard, speaking on behalf of the youngsters at the meeting, said young people would also welcome a multi-sports area with all-weather surface, such as the old tennis courts behind the village hall which had become a car park.

They liked the idea of using the sports pavilion for youth club activities, such as Nintendo, pool or table tennis, with soft drinks available.

The football club was also keen to seek new talent among under-17s with maybe two games per week on their pitch.

A straw poll at the meeting found no-one in favour of the youth shelter; a small number plumped for an activities wall, but most preferred to revive the youth club.

Mrs Smith had once offered to take young people to Lodge Hill, where there are good facilities, and even organised kick-boxing in the school.

It was also suggested that amalgamation with Coldwaltham Youth Club might be possible.

West Sussex County Council provided two youth leaders when the club operated two nights per week, but the meeting heard the village was unlikely to get county youth support due to financial cut backs.

It was believed that Rod Foster, who had been youth leader, was prepared to return on a voluntary basis.

A room in the village hall, formerly used for table tennis, might be available one night per week if supervised, the meeting heard, and this could be combined with another evening in the sports pavilion.

Julie Hawkins suggested a questionnaire would be helpful, similar to a survey conducted some time ago which yielded 40 responses.