Children's centre for villages

FAMILIES in Banwell and Winscombe will soon be able to access a host of new facilities and services on their doorstep. At its meeting on Monday (Nov 13), Banwell Parish Council accepted an offer from North Somerset Council to convert Banwell Youth and Com

FAMILIES in Banwell and Winscombe will soon be able to access a host of new facilities and services on their doorstep.At its meeting on Monday (Nov 13), Banwell Parish Council accepted an offer from North Somerset Council to convert Banwell Youth and Community Club into a new children's centre for the villages.The £150,000 centre will provide a range of services including drop in sessions for families and carers, adult education, IT access, play groups, toy and equipment hire and a large room for community groups to meet as well as equipment for teenagers.Although the project will greatly benefit villagers with more accessible services, many residents fear the centre will focus on younger children and teenagers will have nowhere to go.Norma Parfitt, secretary of Banwell Judo, said: "Banwell YCC is a well used community hall, purpose built for vigorous sports. As well as the youth club, it is used by the toddler group, the after school club, the judo club, a dog training club, a model car group and for parties. Some of the main groups use the hall every day."The hall is to be taken over, rebuilt with glass walls at the ends, divided into four units, therefore destroying its main use as a large hall and set up as a drop in centre, not necessarily for village use. "The new school gym is unsuitable for a youth centre so it's likely that in providing facilities for small children who already have many activities, the one place where the teens of Banwell can go will be taken away from them. If the new centre has to have separate rooms then why not find a large building in Weston with big rooms already there?"Many residents packed into the village hall to hear the plans for the centre on November 6 and Paul Tomkins from North Somerset's Early Years Team promised to take on board their suggestions.The council has now suggested a multi-use games area could be built outside the centre and plans for glass doors at the back of the building are being reconsidered.Teenagers from the village will also be catered for and were consulted before building designs were drawn up. Their suggestions which included a messy room for art, IT facilities, a non alcoholic bar, sports facilities and a chill out room, which are being considered.The children's centre is due to be up and running by March 2008 and the parish council will now be working with North Somerset to come up with the best contract to meet the needs of the village.


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