CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save a youth club in Arundel from closing have condemned West Sussex County Council for acting ‘unlawfully’ in its attempt to close the facility.
David Wood, a former Arundel town councillor and chairman of the trust which runs the town’s swimming pool, claims the county council acted unlawfully in firstly forcing the youth club, based on the top floor of the town’s library, in Surrey Street, into one small room and subsequently evicting the group from the building altogether.
He said the council asked the Learning Tree Nursery, which shares the site, to no longer pay rent to the youth club, which he claims has cost the club some £5,000 since the decision was made in August, 2013.
Mr Wood said: “The county council has acted unlawfully in ordering the Learning Tree Nursery not to pay its rent to the youth club since August 2013, thus depriving the youth club of its major source of income.”
The council denies acting unlawfully and said it was involved in a ‘formal legal exchange’ with the youth club.
Mr Wood said under the original lease condition granted on the site, by owners the Angmering Park Estate, the building could only be used as a library, health centre, community centre or a youth club.
However, there is scope for the lease holders to sub-let part of the building, which has been the case between the youth club and the nursery.
A spokeswoman for the county council said the council has been in negotiations with the club for the last year and that the temporary cessation of the club was to address a problem following complaints received from parents.
She added the council hoped to expand the nursery.
The spokeswoman said: “The county council rejects the rather casual allegations of unlawfulness and bribery which do nothing to advance a solution to a real problem.
“The county council over the last year has been in negotiation with the Arundel Youth Club committee and all actions taken in respect of the move of rooms and rent issues were done in full agreement with the youth club committee.”
She added: “The council has made an offer to the town council to assist in the relocation of the youth club, and there is a clear indication that this could be easily achieved. The figure of £12,000 has been calculated so as to provide two years’ sustainable funds to operate a standard youth club service, based on current comparable rent and staffing costs.”
However, Mr Wood said this sum was not enough to cover the cost of a new site.