Page last updated at 05:49 GMT, Wednesday, 31 March 2010 06:49 UK

Youths stage protest over Dowlais club funding

Engine House
Prince Charles visited Dowlais Engine House when it opened in 2006

Youngsters and youth workers are to protest following doubts over the future funding of a community club.

Staff and members of Pant and Dowlais Boys' and Girls' Club in Merthyr Tydfil are to campaign outside the town's Welsh Assembly Government offices.

Management claim they will not receive £92,000 of Communities First funding in the next financial year.

The assembly government said funding had not yet been determined but further work was needed on the bid.

The club has been running for 20 years, moving into the historic Dowlais Engine House in 2006.

With funding from Communities First - an assembly government initiative to boost deprived areas - the club runs a range of activities for six to 18-year-olds, including football, netball, drama, sign language courses, guitar and singing lessons and mini-gym.

This will have a massive impact on the community
Dowlais Engine House manager Christian Churchill

It also runs a youth club during school holidays and evenings, attracting between 150-180 children on Friday nights.

Engine House general manager Christian Churchill said Communities First has not supported the club's bid for funding for 2010-11, threatening two full time and seven part time jobs.

Mr Churchill said: "We are talking about less than £92,000 a year, which is not a huge amount of money but it impacts on a lot of young people over the course of a year.

"Welsh Assembly Government guidelines state you have to have the support of Communities First.

"We get funding from other sources but most of it is from the Welsh assembly.

"Ultimately the Engine House will have to shut."

Mr Churchill added the club - which has 1,300 members - offers much to children and teenagers who would otherwise have few facilities.

"We never turn anyone away just because they haven't got the pound to do an activity," he said.

'No support'

"The young people who come here have developed amazingly.

"This will have a massive impact on the community."

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said: "Further funding for this project has not yet been determined.

"The full application was only received on March 22 and further work is needed regarding the strength of the bid since there is no evidence of support for the project among local Communities First Partnerships and there is little tangible support from the council for what is clearly a borough-wide project.

"The Assembly Government will be discussing these issues with those concerned in the next few weeks.

"It should also be noted that the Minister for Social Justice and Local Government has said that he is not prepared to commit substantial further Communities First funding ahead of receiving specific assurances on governance and financial arrangements in each case."

Earlier this month the Audit Office found evidence of "fundamental weakness of management" at the Plas Madoc Communities First project in Wrexham.



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