Big Society plan to save Diss youth centre

A youth centre 'for the community, by the community' moved a step closer last night following a meeting aimed at saving a valued public building in Diss from the axe.

Town leaders have taken their first leap into the Big Society by drawing up a business plan for the Diss Youth Resource Base, which is set to close as a result of Norfolk County Council spending cuts.

Users and supporters of the facility, in Shelfanger Road, were urged to come forward to take on the running of the centre after Diss Town Council offered to lease the resource from the county council for the benefit of the area's young people.

Youth workers are set to leave the base in May as a result of County Hall budget cuts and civic leaders have called on the county council to transfer the ownership of the building back to the people of Diss rather than boarding it up and putting it up for sale.

Around 30 people attended a public meeting last night to discuss its future and to find out more about town council plans to keep it open under the management of a community trust. User groups, including the South Norfolk Youth Symphonic Band, have already signed up to run the centre, which currently operates at a �10,000 a year loss.

But Deborah Sarson, town clerk, said there were many ways of increasing income at the base and reducing costs by forming a charitable management trust in the model of the Diss Corn Hall. However, the building needed a 'stay of execution' from the county council.

'There are lots of options and possibilities and it is a community building and clearly valued by the community and we need the support of local people to continue to benefit the young people of south Norfolk and north Suffolk,' she said.

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Town councillor Tony Palmer added that he was 'convinced we are on to a winner' and that the county council would accept the town's business case, as long as it had the support of local people.

Anyone interested in volunteering or organisations interested in getting involved can call Diss Town Council on 01379 643848 or email towncouncil@diss.gov.uk