Empty houses could be revamped for kids

A PAIR of empty houses next to the Martlesham park and ride site could be transformed in to much-needed youth facilities, if determined families and youngsters have their way.

A PAIR of empty houses next to the Martlesham park and ride site could be transformed in to much-needed youth facilities, if determined families and youngsters have their way.

Bought by Suffolk county council when they began developing the site in 2003, the houses now stand deserted with their windows boarded up.

Now, residents are joining forces to urge the council to consider turning the buildings in to a drop-in centre for young people.

Rosy Scott is a member of the recently-formed Kesgrave and district youth forum. She said: "We are failing the young people in this area at the moment. As a community we should be doing something about this.


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"We feel this is the ideal place. If we had the house and adjoining land we could have a drop-in centre and perhaps think about putting the skate park there.

"It has huge potential for development. It would be near enough to the road to police it, but far enough away from residents."

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Other community groups have also had meetings to discuss the potential of the site. Martlesham community council and Sports and Recreation Kesgrave (SPARK) met this week to decide what action to take.

SPARK chairman Pat Mills said he is now in the process of putting together a letter to the county council.

The campaign has been given the backing of the police, who agree the area is in desperate need of youth provision.

Inspector Ben Cook, Woodbridge sector commander, said: "We've had a lot of problems in this area with anti-social behaviour, criminal damage, that type of thing. But we also know that the youngsters who get the blame for this are, themselves, being targeted by criminals from other areas.

"This site seems like a great opportunity and I fully support it."

Insp Cook said he believed the site was in an ideal location - on the route 66 and close to the police headquarters: "The police need to be seen by a lot of the young people as being part of their community so they'll tell us what's going on.

"I really think there's some mileage in it. There's lots of interested parties which, if they got together, could have quite a lot of clout and really turn it around."

The properties, Woodlands Place and Columbo, stand just off the A1214, close to the bus entrance on the Martlesham park and ride site.

A spokesman for the county council said: "We are hoping to keep the properties for council use, as opposed to selling them off. We are currently investigating other uses for both properties and there are lots of interested parties, but at this stage no decisions have been made."

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