Charity bid to takeover Wembley Youth Centre is rejected as site will be used for housing
PUBLISHED: 13:46 29 April 2016 | UPDATED: 13:46 29 April 2016
Brent Council allowed a community charity to submit a takeover bid to save a youth centre from closing despite already earmarking the site for housing, it has been claimed.
Wembley Crime Prevention (WCP) lodged a community asset transfer application for Wembley Youth Centre (WYC) in London Road, after the council announced last year it was facing the axe.
WCP was providing a range of activities for young people at WYC including martial art classes, mentoring and music workshops when the council admitted to the Times it was to close on April 1.
The closure announcement was made even though the council was still processing the application from WCP.
In a bitter blow last week, Brent Council rejected WCP’s bid saying it would “redevelop the site to create new homes” as part of £130million package for temporary accommodation in the borough.
Keith Harwood, chief executive of WCP, said: “Brent Council from the off knew full well they had absolutely no intention of giving this vitally important asset back to the community as they had intentions to re-develop the land all along.
“It just went through these mere protocols to keep Wembley Crime Prevention under loop to make it appear they had the valid interests of our young people and the community.”
WCP relies on funding from the council and outside organisations to deliver its community work.
However it has had its town hall funding cut after the council slashed the monies available for youth services from £1million to £400,000.
“It’s inconsideration on their part considering the highly evident youth knife and murder crime in the borough,” Mr Harwood said.
“The youth and community centre has a proven track record of providing a safe haven away from these inflicting dangers through the successful projects and initiatives operated there.
“We’ve now lost something that the youth of Brent had a passion in.”
Last October, the council revealed it was seeking voluntary providers to take over the management of youth centres WYC, Granville Plus in Cricklewood, and Poplar Grove in Wembley.
Only Roundwood myplace Centre in Harlesden, was guaranteed a future.
On April 1 WYC was closed alongside Granville Plus while Poplar Grove remains open with some services given by a new provider.
The council has offered WCP the choice of renting WYC with “a short term window”, an option Mr Harwood is considering.
He said: “We will do what WCP has to do to keep these kids safe, give them something to do. Some of them were in tears on the last day.
“If we get to return for one year, we’ll keep going, we’ll get the money from somewhere. I just want the council to keep us informed of what they want from us and our timescale. If it doesn’t work out, I must look for other avenues.”
A council spokeswoman said: “Future development on the site will be subject to consultation and engagement with stakeholders and residents as well as further cabinet approvals and the submission of a planning application.”
“The youth centre closed earlier this year, but we very much value the work of the Wembley Crime Prevention group and we are speaking with them about next steps.”