Centre closes as 'children are too good'

CHILDREN in north west Ipswich are today facing the closure of a much-loved centre – because they aren't troublesome enough!At a time when the government is sending out almost daily press releases about new initiatives in the run-up to the general election, a fund aimed at helping primary school children is facing the axe.

CHILDREN in north west Ipswich are today facing the closure of a much-loved centre – because they aren't troublesome enough!

At a time when the government is sending out almost daily press releases about new initiatives in the run-up to the general election, a fund aimed at helping primary school children is facing the axe.

And in Ipswich this means that the Making Tracks centre in Ulster Avenue is to close by the end of the month – little more than a year after opening.

The government is cutting £270,000 of funding to Children's Fund projects in Suffolk – including £40,000 to Making Tracks centres in Ipswich.

That is forcing the closure of the Ulster Avenue centre which provides somewhere for eight to 13-year-olds in the Whitehouse.

Whitehouse borough councillor Albert Grant said: "These are good kids and we don't have a lot of anti-social behaviour.

Most Read

"That's why we are losing it (the centre). That is totally unfair.

"We should look after people who show responsibility and not penalise them for it."

Cheryl Simmonds' 11-year-old daughter Christy does activities from karaoke to crafts at the centre.

The 38-year-old Wexford Road mum said: "It's just somewhere for them to go off the streets. It's somewhere safe for them."

Tracy Pegg, 38, of Aston Close, said her 11-year-old daughter Laura was also very upset.

She said: "She gets together with her friends and they have a whale of a time. They will really miss it."

Teresa Bugg said her eight-year-old son Jordan had been waiting to join his 11-year-old sister Sophie at the centre.

The 38-year-old of Kerry Avenue said: "On the day of his birthday in January, we found out it was closing. He was really disappointed."

Ipswich-based Making Tracks, which works to reduce anti-social behaviour by providing drop-in centres and cyber cafés for eight to 13-year-olds, will suffer the 25 per cent funding cut from April.

This is because Suffolk's Children's Fund, which funds Making Tracks, will have less money available.

In years 2002-2005 the average funding available from the fund was £1.71m.

In years 2005-2008 the average funding available will be £1.44m – £270,000 less per year.

County councillor Tony Lewis said: "Suffolk's Children's Fund has had to make tough decisions and identify the projects where there is the greatest need.

"We are very keen to help with advice and guidance to assist the Whitehouse community to keep Making Tracks going, if that's what they want."

The Ulster Avenue centre is closing because the other Making Tracks centres are in more deprived areas – Priory Heath, Chantry and Whitton.

Making Tracks project manager Emma Horne, said: "I deeply regret and am sorry this is happening, but unfortunately there is nothing we can do. I feel we have exhausted every avenue.

"If someone comes up to me and says we have got the funds, it would be welcome."

Liberal Democrat councillor for Whitehouse George King said it was ridiculous to suggest the Ulster Avenue centre was not in a deprived area.

He said: "A few months ago the council was saying this is one of the most deprived areas in the county. Now we are hearing it is not deprived enough for this centre.

"There is nothing else for children in the area and I will do all I can to help save the centre – although there is not much time left."

Are you upset about this development? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Opinion – page 6.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter