The future of a well-loved Bexleyheath youth centre is in jeopardy as it faces more than a £110,000 funding gap.

Bexley Council has informed the trust that in order to keep the Danson Youth Centre (DYC) services in Brampton Road running, it will be required to pay £25,000 in rent whereas previously it paid nothing.

News Shopper:
Bexley Council announced in January that it would be cutting the £89,000 grant to the Danson Youth Trust

The heads at Danson Youth Trust, which looks after the DYC, had already been dealt a heavy funding blow with the loss of an £89,000 council grant announced in January this year.

A new petition has been launched to keep the “flagship” youth centre open that has so far attracted more than 2,500 signatures.

News Shopper: One of the managers at DYC, Philippa Norris, wants 10,000 signatures​

Philippa Norris, 31, has been one of the managers at Danson Youth Centre for the past nine years and attended the centre as a child herself.

“I think the community is very angry,” she said, “What the council is doing is very short sighted.

“Not so long ago we were seen as a flagship service and it is something we have pride in.

“What they are suggesting completely jeopardises our existence as a charity.”

She added: “I completely agree that the most in need, need the most help.

“But we have been getting bigger because we have been investing in it for years.

“As a service it is a gift to Bexley.”

The trust are staring at a £114,000 funding gap as the council steers towards a taxpayer funded youth service for those “most at risk of criminality, anti-social behaviour, sexual exploitation and exclusion from school.”

News Shopper:
A petition has been launched to fight the council's decision to impose a £25,000 rental scheme

The council has also highlighted other groups that no longer receive grants in the borough, but like DYC “have the opportunity to run them independently on a self-financing basis, something that many providers do already.”

Although the DYC is 75 per cent self-funded, the outstanding quarter of its resources have been propped up by the council.

Unfortunately it hasn’t been possible for the trust to table a counter-demand against Bexley Council at its next full meeting on Wednesday (July 20) due to the weekly cut-off point for submissions.

Speaking on social media, the up-and-coming Bexleyheath boxer, Danny Davis, said: “It's terrible the youth centre could possibly shut down which would neglect kids of their opportunities.

“Without it I couldn't have been the boxer I am today and the boxer I will be in the future.

“Please help to keep the danson centre alive.”

News Shopper:
Bexleyheath boxer, Danny Davis, has encouraged others to sign the petition

In response to the growing opposition Bexley Council was “keen to set the record straight on the future of Danson Youth Centre.”

A spokeswoman for the council said: “The background to this situation is the continuing reduction since 2008 in the financial resources available to Bexley and all councils across the UK.

“In that review of its youth services the council announced its plan to invite independent organisations and businesses to run more youth activities that would be universally available to all young people.

“The council’s long-standing financial arrangement with the Danson Youth Trust was part of the review.

“Given the claims about the centre’s popularity, the fact that no rent has been paid up to now and the Trust’s current financial position, the Council believes this is reasonable.

“Unfortunately the Trust has refused to continue discussions with the council.”

News Shopper:
Bexley Council announced in January this year that the Danson Youth Trust grant would be axed

Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Cllr Philip Read, said: “The Trust has imposed the closure date of 2017, which relates to its activities not the Centre itself, while we were still attempting to negotiate with them.

“This is about more than the future of one organisation.

“We cannot continue to provide grants to organisations in the way we used to.

“We owe it to each and every one of our council tax paying residents, from all over the borough, to get the most from their money.

“It is also important to understand that there are many youth activities of the sort provided by the Trust available from other providers, both commercial and voluntary, in Bexley.”

To view the online petition click here