London Colney youth centre seeks new home after closure shock

PUBLISHED: 12:30 25 February 2014 | UPDATED: 12:30 25 February 2014

Cllr Dreda Gordon and Cllr Jacob Quagliozzi outside The Base in London Colney

Cllr Dreda Gordon and Cllr Jacob Quagliozzi outside The Base in London Colney

Archant

Young people left fuming after hard-hearted landlords of a St Albans youth club brought in the bailiffs to lock them out have launched a campaign to have the centre reopened.

The Base, on the High Street in London Colney, was recently suddenly closed despite nearly two decades of providing a popular youth project.

The landlords organised Parkinson Bailiff Services to drill off the existing locks, and install new ones at 4am on Friday, January 24.

There had been a dispute between the landlords who tried to increase the rent and those running The Base, who refused to pay more given that various problems, including damp, had not been fixed.

Fifteen-year-old Karrianne Jackson, a Year 11 pupil at Marlborough School, said she and her friends, who take part in activities at the centre, have launched a petition to keep The Base open.

She said: “Teenagers appreciate the youth club and we use it to hang out with our friends during weekdays after school.

“One day when our youth club wasn’t open, me and my friends had to sit in a shop entrance because it was raining and we had nowhere to go.

“Later on that evening before we all got picked up or went home, a policeman came over to us and asked why we were sitting there. We said our youth club wasn’t open.

“This puts a bad view on teenagers because some people may feel threatened to walk along the High Street while we are there.”

She called for the centre to reopen to keep youngsters, “off the streets, and we have somewhere warm and fun to hang out with our friends”.

Dreda Gordon, chair of the management committee which runs the charitable project, said The Base would now permanently relocate, and that an alternative site was being sought.

Bailiffs charged the charity £144 an hour to let project staff and villagers back into the building to remove office and activity equipment which is being stored temporarily at the London Colney recreation centre.

Dreda said: “The landlords have been extremely obstructive and unhelpful. They have been heartless, so we are looking at this as an opportunity to move on.”

While a replacement centre is being organised, the project will offer services temporarily from the recreation centre.

n An interim hearing took place at St Albans County Court on February 10 in relation to an application by the trustees for an order setting out terms of a new lease. The judge made an order to stay the proceedings for one month. If neither party applies for the proceedings to be reinstated, they will be struck out.

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