Thurrock Youth Zone plans move forward

A state of the art youth centre in Thurrock is moving forward, with the council approving the drawing up of a business plan.

The Youth Zone on Anchor Fields will be delivered by the national Youth Charity OnSide, which has an established track record in providing youth facilities.

On Wednesday March 13, Thurrock’s cabinet agreed funding and lease agreements should now be drawn up for the long-awaited scheme.

The Youth Zone will offer a wide range of sporting, artistic, cultural, physical and recreational activities for young people aged eight to 19 years, or up to 25 years for those with additional needs. It will be accessible and affordable by all and open from 8am to 10pm, every day of the year.

Presenting the update to cabinet, Ben Maney, councillor responsible for regeneration and highways, said: ”The Youth Zone has the potential to provide a vital range of services and improved outcomes for young people in Thurrock and it’s essential the project is properly managed and delivered.”

Council leader Andrew Jefferies added: “This such an exciting and potentially transformational project for the whole borough not just Tilbury.

“It’s agreed we need to get spades in the ground and get this working and they are actively working to achieve that. We fully support this project.”

Deborah Arnold, Conservative councillor for Ockendon, said the Youth Zone would be unlike latter day youth clubs. She said: “I’ve seen the one in Croydon and the one in Dagenham. They are such a far cry from the youth centre of my day with a few crayons and a colouring book at the back of the hall.

“They are amazing. There’s a rock climbing wall, the team sports they inspire there, musicians and a music room. I know there were concerns about antisocial behaviour increasing in Tilbury because of the youth centre. For me it can’t do anything other than do the opposite so I’m really looking forward to this coming through.”

Under the Government’s Town Fund Scheme, Tilbury was been awarded £22.8 million in funding to support transformational projects put forward in the Tilbury Town Investment Plan. The bid was shaped by residents and local businesses and people who work in Tilbury and included proposals for a new youth facility in the town.

A report to cabinet said: “The proposed Thurrock Youth Zone facility will be a place that is specifically designed for young people, providing them with somewhere to go, something to do and someone to talk to.”

The scheme has been supported by the Thames Freeport and DP World and has been backed by Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price.

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter