Plea to keep Ryland Centre primarily for Bromsgrove's youth

By EXCLUSIVE by Thursday 20 September 2012 Updated: 20/09 16:13

THE FORMER manager of Bromsgrove's Ryland Centre has called for the authority now running it to ensure it keeps up its legacy as a place for young people to go.

Anne Heath, who worked at the New Road centre for ten years between 2000 and 2010, said the land was bequeathed to the town by Major Ryland to be used by Bromsgrove's youth and that was the way it had been since the 1950s.

During her time there, youth clubs were run up to five nights a week, along with a variety of other activities, including football practice and competitions, cheer-leading, street dance, judo, self-defence, music, workshops, discos and athletics clubs.

Then, she said, in 2000 when there was concern about a drop in things to do for young people at the centre, work and funding was invested to upgrade the social area and more evenings were made available for youth activities.

Mrs Heath said: "Some adult activities took place, but in a secondary context to those for young people.

"I am deeply concerned that giving away the management of the centre to privately-run Sandwell Leisure Trust (SLT) will reduce the access for young people and the number of activities for them."

And she said, in this 2012 London Olympic year when there was so much talk about leaving a legacy for future generations, the land and the Ryland Centre should be used as Major Ryland intended.

"Some young people often have a hard time during their adolescence and places like the Ryland Centre can help.

"I have often met young people and had messages through Facebook that state the youth club was the one thing that helped them through their difficult times."

SLT's chief executive officer Paul Slater said: "SLT has a wealth of experience in delivering young people's activities including holiday camps, fun sessions and coached activities.

"We will deliver a range of activities for users of the Ryland Centre, including young people.

In doing so, SLT will not be breaching any covenants that are in place.

"All existing sports clubs that offer youth activities will continue to do so, including athletics, netball, futsal, outdoor football teams and a Special Olympics group.

"SLT will also make £15,000 available each year for youth work in and around the centre.

"The Ryland Centre also welcomes families and young people to use its sports facilities including badminton and athletics."

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