youth centre closures
Lichfield McDonald’s has informed Staffordshire County Council that it will no longer be able to fulfil the County’s obligation to provide a Youth Club for local kids unless the Council provides funding and martial arts training for its staff.
Since the County Council closed all local youth centres last year the Conduit Street fast food restaurant has become the meeting venue of choice for many Lichfield teenagers.
McDonald’s Manager Bess Groscull commented:
‘The situation is getting out of hand. Now the club is closed there are hoards of youths hanging around here all night, every night. The paying customers have complained about all the shouting and swearing, I have apologised for the staff behaviour but those kids would try the patience of a saint.’
Local mum Britney Singleton, 19, said:
‘I bring my five under five-year-olds in here for a nutritious meal three or four nights a week. They get really upset by all the rowdy behaviour, especially as two or three of the lads that the manager’s bawling at could well be my kids’ dads.’
Ms Groscull explained the company’s position:
‘Unless we can get funding from the Council for staff training and pest control we will have no alternative but to refuse admission to anyone under the age of 21. It’s so bad for business when customers regularly see police officers wielding Exclusion Orders on the premise. I simply can’t afford to lose any more staff.
‘Or, and I know that this may be controversial, the Council could always re-open the youth centre.’
Staffordshire County Council bricked up sections beneath the ramps at the popular park off Cherry Close last month.
Local park dweller Kev Slagson, 19, commented:
‘When we were told the Council were coming to do some brickwork I thought, great, it’s about time we got some walls on these homes. So I left them to it while I went to the methadone clinic.
‘I was gob-smacked when I got back, it was totally bricked up – they’d only gone and forget to put in any bloody doors. So I’ve had to knock through, it’s not vandalism, I was just installing my own doorway. Admittedly I didn’t make a very good job of it, but I blame three years on the crap bricklaying course at Chase Terrace Collage for that.’
Kevin found himself homeless earlier this year after his mother threw him out of the eight bedroomed Bromford Housing home in the Dimbles. Mother of five Greta Slagson said:
‘As soon as the bedroom tax started to bite I had to do something., Kev had to go for a start off, waster that he is, I’ve not even been getting child benefit for him for months. I’ve sublet his room to a travelling salesman, lovely chap, always asks politely before he climbs into my bed after a night out.’
Having been thrown out of his own home Kevin embarked on his journey to the fabled former socialist enclave of Burntwood .
‘It was an arduous journey,’ Kev recalls. ‘Battling through the harsh winter but eventually I happened upon Burntwood, the forgotten outpost beyond the Wall.’
Exhausted and destitute, Kevin was taken in by the local Youth Centre. They provided him with food and an old snooker table for a bed. Former youth worker Barrington Weaver explained:
‘Kev was in a poor way when he arrived on our doorstep. My first thought was to take him to the new Burntwood Health Centre but then I remembered that we don’t have one. So I tried to get him registered with a local GP only to discover that most doctors had already abandoned the town.’
Things went from bad to worse as Kevin was made homeless again when the Youth Centre was closed down by Staffordshire County Council in March 2015.
‘Fortunately the skate park is right next to the Youth Centre and the ramps provide excellent shelter, especially if you can get a fire going down there. Before long I’d settled in and was inviting mates round for beer and drugs parties, the music was awesome, even the local neighbours joined in, throwing shapes and shouting from their bedroom windows. The park is known as a real hot-spot now.’
Not all residents who live near the park, known locally as Dolophine Square, are so enthusiastic. One neighbour Sheila Sparrow who does not want to be identified said:
‘My life is a living hell and having these weirdos in my back garden doesn’t help. The park is attracting drug dealers and I’ve even seen that Pastor Sandy and his sister from 7’s Nightclub wandering around with cans of hot soup, it’s a disgrace. I’d call the police but there aren’t any left in Burntwood these days.’
Publicity shy local County Councillor Sue Norman commented:
‘Youngsters need better facilities in the town. This is a reaction to the county council closing down the youth centres.
‘I’m going to start a petition.’
Mike Lawrence Cabinet Member for Children and Community Safety said
‘It is disappointing that a small group of individuals seem determined to vandalise their new homes and ruin it for all the other young people who will be destitute on the streets when we finalise the closure of Burntwood in 2016.’