Party at Malvern Youth Centre this coming Saturday evening to launch the first Smoke and Mirrors anthology. I’m chuffed to be included with the poets in this list of contributors – Attila the Stockbroker, Emma Purshouse, Bill Thomas, Dan Duke, Shani Stocker, Tim Cranmore, Amy Rainbow, Ali Oxtoby, Ted Underwood, Peter Wyton, Ray Miller, John Cooper Clarke, Guy Martyr, Trish Marsh, Sue Thompson, Brenda Read Brown, Heather Wastie, Fergus McGonigal, Laura Dedicoat, Gary Longden, Simone Mansell Broome, Lydia Davies, Catherine Crosswell, Myfanwy Fox, Ronnie Salisbury, Adrian Mealing and Ian McMillan – and also grateful to Caitlin and Dee for making Smoke and Mirrors such a lively event.
If you’re in the Malvern area do come along – lots of friendly warmth (and a bar) for £3 entry on the door.
The Youth Centre is threatened with closure – or, at the least, severe reduction in capacity and function.
My understanding of its recent history is this:
Malvern Hills college (next door) wanted to expand. Worcestershire County Council own the MYC site so a deal was suggested to sell part of the site to the college, provided part of the building was maintained as a Youth Centre. The refurbished YC would be then part of the MH College campus, surrounded by the MH College security fence etc. The remaining land would be sold for executive housing development.
A plan was drafted. New houses are mere feet from the designated College YC buildings on the plan. Will those households tolerate teen rock musicians practicing? Or concerts? What about youngsters who might use a YC but would not want to set foot in a college? Who would control opening hours, events, security and so on? Why would the Quaker Peace Garden be destroyed when it’s only just been installed (post-Spring Show)?
A groundswell of opposition grew culminating in a huge meeting, overflowing the auditorium at the MYC. Meanwhile a local Transition management plan had been raised by volunteers, offering to run the YC site if it were kept. Even the College now backs the local plan to keep the site as is, based on its acceptance of the intense local support for the Youth Centre.
At the last MHDC meeting I attended, the Tories produced an amendment to the proposed local takeover to block it. They promise a new Youth Centre “to be built where it’s needed most.” When? Where will that be? Surely the relatively neutral ground of central Malvern is a good location and in walking distance for everyone? What will happen in the meantime? Who will run it? How will it be funded?
It appears the local Tories are more interested in party politics – and money – than community. The local action plan is a brilliant vision of Cameron’s “big society” yet the Tories are blocking it, en masse, irrespective of the clearly-stated wishes of their constituents.
Surely, selling the land, when the market is at best stagnant in recession, is NOT the way to benefit the county long term? Who will be making a profit out of this deal? Not the local people and certainly not local youth services.