COUNCIL chiefs are on the verge of accepting a school’s offer to help restore a £2.9million youth centre which had been virtually abandoned.
Southend Council’s children and lifelong learning scrutiny committee will sit down on Monday night to decide whether to team up with Shoeburyness High School and other community groups to find a way forward for Shoebury Youth Centre.
The Echo revealed in September that the state-of-the-art facility, which was opened by Countdown star Rachel Riley amid a huge fanfare in July 2010, had been left to rot as it became a haven for teenage louts and vandals.
But bosses insist they have worked hard to change the situation since it came to light and now plan to accept the offer of Mark Schofield, headteacher at Shoeburyness, to help.
Sue Cook, the council’s corporate director of children and learning, said: “The recommended way forward in the short to mid-term is to establish a steering group, which will be independently chaired, to continue to build on the interest and sustain further expanded useage.
“This steering group will include key community groups, including Shoeburyness High School and the Shoebury and Thorpe Bay Baptist Church.”
Teenagers in Shoebury spent two years drawing up plans for the youth centre, which was funded by the Big Lottery Fund, in collaboration with Connexions.
When it opened, the building featured regular volunteering workshops, band rehearsals and a restaurant run by the YMCA.
But the facilities have fallen out of use, largely because of the number of employees required to staff them.
When the scale of the problem emerged at a scrutiny committee meeting in September, Mr Schofield offered council chiefs a deal in which the school’s pupils would use the centre, in return for supplying staff to police it.
The new steering group will be responsible for looking for ways to increase the number of people using the centre and keeping them there.
If it is approved, it will be set up by the end of month and report back to councillors every six months.
Mr Schofield was unavailable for comment.