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Last Updated: Monday, 29 September, 2003, 13:47 GMT 14:47 UK
Sussex's last resorts for young
by Laura Smith-Spark
BBC News Online

Eastbourne Pier
Eastbourne has a pier - and nine nightclubs
A survey comparing the ratio of old folk's homes to clubs and pubs has concluded that being a young person in three Sussex resort towns is not much fun.

Top of the "worst towns to be young" table is Worthing - which the study claims has 15 undertakers but few music venues - followed by Bognor Regis and Eastbourne.

Between them the top three towns have 132 old people's homes but only 12 nightclubs, according to the survey's count.

But councillors and residents say while the towns warrant their reputation as the home of tea dances and bingo rather than the new Faliraki - things are starting to change.

We've ended up with this 'bowls and tea dances' culture that doesn't reflect the people that actually live here
Claire Potter, Worthing councillor
The survey, compiled by the makers of the drink After Shock, uses a mathematical formula to measure towns for "the levels of boredom and despair they will induce in young adults".

Places are ranked by how many pubs, clubs and bars they boast against the number of old folks' homes, bingo halls and undertakers.

With only two cinemas and few nightclubs or music venues - compared with 15 undertakers and 50 old people's homes - Worthing is clearly not a great place to be young, the survey concludes.

'God's waiting room'

Resort towns across the south of England fare badly, with Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, Christchurch in Dorset and Torquay in Devon bagging fourth, fifth and sixth spots respectively.

But life in Eastbourne - which has nine nightclubs and 47 bars and pubs - has been defended by one of the very young people who should be most depressed, according to the survey.

Annie Murray, 22, who works at the cocktail bar La Habana - which does have a bingo hall opposite - said she had decided to stay in Eastbourne after three years studying there.

Top 10 worst places for young people
Worthing, West Sussex
Bognor Regis, West Sussex
Eastbourne, East Sussex
Weston super Mare, Somerset
Christchurch, Dorset
Torquay, Devon
Louth, Lincolnshire
Shanklin, Isle of Wight
Llandudno, north Wales
Lowestoft, Suffolk
She said: "I graduated in the summer and I'm staying down here for a bit because I like it so much.

"The first thing everybody says about Eastbourne is that it's 'God's waiting room'.

"But I've heard that for a town, Eastbourne has the highest student population of anywhere.

"It's a good place to be when it's nice and sunny - you can't go wrong. And Brighton is so close by, it's brilliant."

Claire Potter, at 24 the youngest person elected to Worthing Borough Council, said solving the lack of leisure facilities for its young people was high on the agenda.

She told BBC News Online: "I'm not surprised that Worthing has won this dubious honour.

The survey claims Worthing, Bognor and Eastbourne have few clubs

"I grew up here myself and felt frustrated by the lack of things for young people to do."

Miss Potter, a Liberal Democrat, said the main problem in the past was the council's failure to listen to what young people wanted.

"We've ended up with this 'bowls and tea dances' culture that doesn't reflect the people that actually live here," she said.

The authority is now setting up a youth council to give teenagers a voice.

Worthing residents point out young people also have the chance to join sports teams including football, rugby, cricket and basketball.

The makers of After Shock said they planned to send teams offering samples of the drink to the towns highlighted.

Brian Woods, of After Shock, said: "We wanted to find the towns in the UK that are the worst to be young in, the areas that simply don't cater for young adults.

"The lack of entertainment facilities in these places is stopping young adults enjoying their lives to the full."

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