Sir Michael steps into fund row

CHILDREN'S minister Margaret Hodge was today coming under pressure to reverse cuts to the government's Children's Fund which could force the closure of a popular youth centre in Ipswich.

CHILDREN'S minister Margaret Hodge was today coming under pressure to reverse cuts to the government's Children's Fund which could force the closure of a popular youth centre in Ipswich.

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Sir Michael Lord was seeking an urgent meeting with Mrs Hodge after The Evening Star told him about the threat to the Making Tracks centre at Ulster Avenue in his constituency.

The centre provides activities for youngsters aged between eight and 13 and opened iat Easter last year.

However it is set to close at the end of this month because Making Tracks is having to make cutbacks.


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There are currently four Making Tracks centres around the town – at Priory Heath, Chantry and Whitton as well as the Whitehouse centre in Ulster Avenue.

None of the others are under threat.

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Sir Michael said: "Centres like Making Tracks are so valuable because they give youngsters something to do – they don't just get bored.

"When I was young I remember going to the old-style youth clubs. The world has changed but young people still need somewhere to meet and do things together."

Sir Michael was especially disturbed to hear there were suggestions that the centre was closing because the problems in Whitehouse were not as serious as they were in other parts of the town.

He said: "If they are saying that then it's very worrying – it's like saying you have to behave badly before you get any reward."

Ipswich council is hoping to persuade Making Tracks to review its decision.

Executive member Paul West said: "I shall be writing to the Children's Fund to find out exactly why they are withdrawing funding for Making Tracks in Whitehouse and to see if there is any way they could reconsider.

"We have already looked at other options such as planning gain but this does not appear to be applicable in this case."

Opinion – page 6

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