'Tragic waste' as Bromley Council sells off Penge building being used as youth centre (From News Shopper)
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'Tragic waste' as Bromley Council sells off Penge building being used as youth centre
A pastor has made a final plea to save a Penge youth centre after the council confirmed it is selling the building to a property developer.
News Shopper ran a story in December last year when Pastor John Wheeler, of Christ Central Church, accused Bromley Council of "abandoning the youth of Penge".
He said the council was selling the old Citizen's Advice Bureau in Snowdown Close - which was being used by the church as a club for local children.
Left to right: Fabio Bajrami, 13, and Matty Jones, 13 enjoy a gane of pool at the youth centre
Teenager Kadar Hussein had been shot outside the building in May, and the centre was seen by many as a way of rebuilding the community.
The council initially gave the Green Lane church permission to use the building rent-free, but then decided to sell it.
The church has since bid £100,000 to buy the property, but a different bid was accepted.
Senior pastor Glenn Paten said: "I felt this was the perfect opportunity for the council to demonstrate in Penge that they are willing to give to the local community, to help build a better Penge.
"It just seems like such a tragic waste.
"It's not just a place for the children to hang out - it's a place where they can be creative, it's a really positive community atmosphere.
"Nearly every week we have a parent drop in to let us know how pleased they are this is happening."
Leon Rusbagatabaro, 12, and Malachi Hogan-Bassey, 13, play table tennis
The church runs a club on Wednesday evenings where children can play table tennis, pool, Xbox, record their own music and chat with youth leaders and other volunteers from the church and community.
A football workshop is also held every Saturday morning.
Former Labour councillor John Getgood, who recently stepped down after representing the area for 12 years, said: "There are very few youth activities in Penge and very little council-inspired youth work.
"Here we are presented with the perfect chance to address this and this is what happens.
"It shows the council's priorities - they are more interested in lining their coffers than doing something positive for the community.
"I got into local politics because I wanted to get out into the community and improve it but this council seems to do as little of this sort of work as they can, and this is a prime example of that."
Left to right: Max Eaton, Peter Heath, Glenn Paten and John Wheeler, who run the youth centre
Executive councillor for resources Graham Arthur said: "The Christ Central Church is doing good work and this is was why the council allowed the church to temporarily use the vacant building.
"Youth provision is important and indeed, the council’s own youth services are located less than a mile away but the long term future of this building has been uncertain.
"The council has carefully considered all the options, including community uses and the potential for much needed housing.
"While the church did submit a bid, the council has accepted another offer and any monies raised will ultimately be used to support stretched council services which include supporting the most vulnerable in our community."
To sign a petition to save the youth centre, click here.
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