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Fight goes on for New Images youth club
A YOUTH Club in Winsford is again battling for its future – nearly a decade after first fighting closure.
A petition to save New Images on Nixon Drive has already garnered thousands of signatures.
Supporters of the club, based within the grounds of the former Verdin High School, plan to raise money with a programme of fundraising activities.
The site’s survival has been complicated in the past by the creation of E-ACT Academy’s new building next door, and the transfer of its operations from the now defunct Connexions youth service to Cheshire West and Chester council (CWAC).
New Images narrowly avoided closure in 2003, when a campaign led by Winsford Town Clr Mike Kennedy managed to obtain a ten year lease extension for the site. However, its facilities were drastically reduced.
Nearly a decade later, there are new fears for the club’s future – with CWAC not committing to a further extension on the site.
Clr Kennedy said: “Nine years ago I chaired the action group to try and save New Images, we were successful in gaining a ten year lease back for youth services, however the young people lost the disco room, art room, snooker room and music room and were left with just the main hall and the pool room and coffee bar.
In the wake of the Olympics, Clr Kennedy thought the centre played an important part in grass roots involvement with sport.
The 30-year-old centre already boasts a great success story in Alan Bullock – a former member of the New Images pool team who emigrated to Australia and is now ranked number five in the world.
“We’ve got table tennis, and we provide football in the main hall. There’s also the Ice Project, a summer sports programme during the school holidays, which uses New Images as a base,” said Clr Kennedy.
The Dene ward Clr added: “I believe that the young people and parents from Winsford deserve better than for CWAC to decide the future of the building based on cost to repair, the supporters of New Images have the right to challenge, and they should be listened to.
“New Images youthy is located on the Grange Estate, the Grange Estate has more social housing on it than any other estate in the Vale Royal area. To deprive this large estate of a youth centre would be criminal.”
Regarding CWAC’s future plans for New Images, a council spokesman said: “We can confirm that the New Images building will transfer from the academy in 2013 to our ownership.