Plans unveiled by Labour Party for huge youth complex in St Helens

The facility is a key part of Labour's manifesto

The facility is a key part of Labour's manifesto

First published in News
Last updated

CREATING a major youth complex that would rival successful ventures in neighbouring towns has been confirmed a key part of Labour’s local election manifesto.

The party’s St Helens branch, which controls the council with a large majority, wants to match the success of the celebrated ‘youth zone’ in Wigan.

That facility, billed the biggest youth club in the UK, had its £6.3m building costs covered by local philanthropy, led by businessmen Dave Whelan, Martin Ainscough and Bill Ainscough.

According to Labour, they would seek to attract similar donations from the private sector – but they have not ruled out using public money as well.

It is understood St Helens Council has earmarked a suitable site in the town centre for development, although this is not being made public at this stage.

Making such a bold pledge in an election manifesto, given the recent history of trying to get major leisure projects in St Helens off the ground, may be seen as a risky strategy by some.

However, Barrie Grunewald, the leader of the council, remained bullish when asked by the Star about the pledge, replying: “This will happen.”

Councillor Grunewald said his visits to similar schemes in Lancashire and Wigan had convinced him such a development was needed in St Helens He said: “Some people say ‘there is no money in St Helens’ but in fact there is a long track record of people supporting good causes.

“When I’ve been overwhelmed by similar centres that I’ve visited I have said: 'Why shouldn’t St Helens have one of those?'"

He added that the “number of issues surrounding youths in the town centre” have underlined the importance of the project being delivered.

Sport, art, music, dance, enterprise clubs and martial arts are among the activities for young people that are available in the Wigan zone.

John Beirne, a former mayor of St Helens who is standing as a UKIP candidate in the town centre, welcomed the idea but argued Labour had waited too long.

He said: “I once remember a Labour councillor standing up at a meeting ten years ago and saying ‘youth clubs don’t work.

“I believe it is a good idea but it is a pity they have waited this long and let things get so desperate with kids congregating in the town centre with nowhere to go.”

Comments (8)

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6:02pm Thu 15 May 14

barrie timpson says...

My God. Absolute desperation. Labour out.
My God. Absolute desperation. Labour out. barrie timpson
  • Score: 9

1:42am Fri 16 May 14

Simon Skidmore says...

Whilst it nice to hear that proposals are being developed for a new town centre facility for young people its quite sad that St Helens is again a town lagging years and years behind its neighbours. Whilst I'm sure Cllr Grunewald is keen to make this happen, the reality is that it will take years and years for a project like this to even start and to secure private investment or attract and identify funding from other sources. I know from personal and recent experience that developing such projects take a huge amount of time effort and funding, What really saddens me is that just over ten years ago a political decision by St Helens Council led to the closure of New Street Community Centre, a building and facility used extensively by children, young people and the wider community which could have been redeveloped and enhanced rather than being bulldozed. Whilst it wasn't a town centre location, its strange that money could not be found for repairs and an upgrade and yet years later at a time of austerity and cuts there is a suggestions that some of the funding for the new building will include public funding. What a pity as well that not a single councillor at the time took the trouble to respond to a letter sent to each one of them by myself about the closure of the community centre. Perhaps millions could have been saved in redeveloping an existing facility and the young people of St Helens could have had a first class facility to rival those in Wigan, Bolton, Blackburn, Carlisle, and Manchester years ago with more foresight and vision. Another important opportunity was completely missed by St Helens Council a few years ago when there was an opportunity for every local authority in England to bid for £1 million of funding allocated to them each from the "My Place" programme, funding; a building programme specifically for new youth facilities and youth clubs. I'd be delighted to welcome any of the St Helens Councillors to come and visit the new youth zone facility for young people in Skelmersdale currently under construction when it opens early next year if it helps to inspire and give the impetus to ensure a similar facility does eventually get built in St Helens.
Whilst it nice to hear that proposals are being developed for a new town centre facility for young people its quite sad that St Helens is again a town lagging years and years behind its neighbours. Whilst I'm sure Cllr Grunewald is keen to make this happen, the reality is that it will take years and years for a project like this to even start and to secure private investment or attract and identify funding from other sources. I know from personal and recent experience that developing such projects take a huge amount of time effort and funding, What really saddens me is that just over ten years ago a political decision by St Helens Council led to the closure of New Street Community Centre, a building and facility used extensively by children, young people and the wider community which could have been redeveloped and enhanced rather than being bulldozed. Whilst it wasn't a town centre location, its strange that money could not be found for repairs and an upgrade and yet years later at a time of austerity and cuts there is a suggestions that some of the funding for the new building will include public funding. What a pity as well that not a single councillor at the time took the trouble to respond to a letter sent to each one of them by myself about the closure of the community centre. Perhaps millions could have been saved in redeveloping an existing facility and the young people of St Helens could have had a first class facility to rival those in Wigan, Bolton, Blackburn, Carlisle, and Manchester years ago with more foresight and vision. Another important opportunity was completely missed by St Helens Council a few years ago when there was an opportunity for every local authority in England to bid for £1 million of funding allocated to them each from the "My Place" programme, funding; a building programme specifically for new youth facilities and youth clubs. I'd be delighted to welcome any of the St Helens Councillors to come and visit the new youth zone facility for young people in Skelmersdale currently under construction when it opens early next year if it helps to inspire and give the impetus to ensure a similar facility does eventually get built in St Helens. Simon Skidmore
  • Score: 9

1:00pm Fri 16 May 14

jumperr says...

We've spent enough money over yrs and nothing in the right places to improve the long term welbeing
We've spent enough money over yrs and nothing in the right places to improve the long term welbeing jumperr
  • Score: 2

10:15am Sun 18 May 14

jumperr says...

The smugness of look what we are doing ,what about the last 40 yrs they have done nothing only collapse the town, no where to go, what can we do should hang there heads in shame.
The smugness of look what we are doing ,what about the last 40 yrs they have done nothing only collapse the town, no where to go, what can we do should hang there heads in shame. jumperr
  • Score: 6

3:22pm Sun 18 May 14

alanpartridge65 says...

Unfortunately a youth complex is only a mere fig leaf compared to the investment St Helens and it's infrastructure really needs in the long run, and stinks of desperation from Labour. The council over the past 4 decades have done nothing but run this town into the ground.
Unfortunately a youth complex is only a mere fig leaf compared to the investment St Helens and it's infrastructure really needs in the long run, and stinks of desperation from Labour. The council over the past 4 decades have done nothing but run this town into the ground. alanpartridge65
  • Score: 7

4:13pm Sun 18 May 14

barrie timpson says...

....and suck expenses out , like the ipads and iphones scandal we've just witnessed.
....and suck expenses out , like the ipads and iphones scandal we've just witnessed. barrie timpson
  • Score: 5

4:14pm Sun 18 May 14

keepitreel says...

why is this a news story? from what i have read they WISH to build one,but DONT have the money and will be relying on the millionaires who live in the town to give them the cash needed,could you put in the paper next week i need my golf fees paying,a nice new Bentley and a holiday home home in SPAIN if any of these multitude of millionaires in the town wish to donate,again this is a non story for the LABOUR party,here is a suggestion why not site it in the new development at RUSKIN DRIVE as this has cost us over £100,000 in consultation fees so far and not a sod has been cut yet so a youth club on the site will not cost £6 million or better still use SUTTON SPORTS CENTRE that will cost NOTHING.
why is this a news story? from what i have read they WISH to build one,but DONT have the money and will be relying on the millionaires who live in the town to give them the cash needed,could you put in the paper next week i need my golf fees paying,a nice new Bentley and a holiday home home in SPAIN if any of these multitude of millionaires in the town wish to donate,again this is a non story for the LABOUR party,here is a suggestion why not site it in the new development at RUSKIN DRIVE as this has cost us over £100,000 in consultation fees so far and not a sod has been cut yet so a youth club on the site will not cost £6 million or better still use SUTTON SPORTS CENTRE that will cost NOTHING. keepitreel
  • Score: 5

6:42pm Sun 18 May 14

sunshineandshowers says...

Beacon building anyone???? Sure there is scope for redeveloping this into something useful?
Beacon building anyone???? Sure there is scope for redeveloping this into something useful? sunshineandshowers
  • Score: 3

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