Ways of Providing a Youth Club Building
In our view a youth club as part of an adult Community Centre is neither practicable in Chinnor nor desirable generally. One of the main needs of adolescents is in identity-seeking and formation and taken together with their overall hostility to the adult world and the gulf between the cultures of the two, this indicates to us that it would be preferable for them to have their own building into which they can invite adults whom they trust and with whom they can create genuine relationships. The alternative of being somewhat mistrusted ‘hangers-on’ on the edge of what would clearly be mainly an adult’s building seems the less desirable alternative.
In Chinnor the only buildings which could conceivably become a general community centre are the old primary school and the village hall. The former is clearly earmarked for ‘overflow’ educational purposes for many years to come but were it available for exclusive use as a youth club it would certainly be adequate for this purpose. Moreover, providing the cost of adaptation and improvement was less than £3,000 it would be eligible for a 100% grant from the County Council’s ‘Minor Works Allocation’. The village hall is totally unsuitable at present and has many limitations in terms of design, structure and space around it when fundamental rebuilding for modern needs is considered. Any possible extensions to its internal space will quickly be filled mainly by a number of adult activities already clamouring to use it and it is surrounded by houses on whose owners it would be unfair to inflict the noise of a youth club for longer than an interim period. There are no playing fields immediately adjacent nor any other facilities such as a library.
Another possibility would be the provision by the County Council of a ‘Youth Wing’ attached to a scohol such as exists already at Thame and Watlington. We are informed that it is County Council policy to provide these only in conjunction with secondary education and under present policy there is no provision for this in Chinnor in the future.
The Oxford Association of Boys’ Clubs might consider a small building for boys only but as we have already shown that there are likely to be more girls than boys to be catered for this would seem to be a waste of money. Nor does it take account of the need for a mixed youth club which we discussed earlier.
A purpose-built mixed youth club costing more than £3,000 can be financed in two ways: (1) A grant of 100% of the cost by the County Education Committee which then insists that the building conforms to their own specifications and is designed by the County Architect. (2) Grants of 50% and 25% of the cost respectively from the Department of Education and Science and the County Education Committee. The remaining 25% is raised voluntarily by the community. This has the advantage that the community can brief and use their own architect although the building must still be approved by the County Architect. The cost to the community can be properly be borne by a levy on the rates.
These two possibilities seem to us to be the best course for Chinnor with our preference going rather to the latter. The money for both may need a wait of five years or more in the queue for priority, particularly with current financial restrictions, and in view of this we have already begun an application for this money on behalf of the Parish Council on the understanding that the application can be withdrawn at any time if a suitable alternative is found.