Clerk's Briefing Note

Proposed Youth Centre - Information for Council Meeting 14 July 2009

 

A. Council Minutes 12/05/09

37.6 Portacabins. The following report was made to the Council:

    1. In November 2008, the Parish Council supported the idea of a youth centre in the portacabin at the Sportsfield. This was also supported by the Sports Association. Pestalozzi subsequently gave its approval as required by the covenant on the land.
    2. In March 2009, the Parish Council obtained planning permission for the youth centre on a slightly different spot and, also replacement of the garages at the Sportsfield.
    3. In April 2009, the Parish Council sought legal advice from Hedleys about the lease.
    4. In April 2009, the Parish Council agreed to the Youth Project's request to lower the price of the portacabin to £3,500.
    5. During April 2009, a long list of anti-social behaviour incidents were recorded at East View and the Village generally.
    6. During April 2009, Orbit HA sent a letter to East View tenants re the anti-social behaviour (also fly-tipping, untaxed motor vehicles, noise nuisance). One paragraph relates entirely to the Youth Club Project, threatening cancellation of the Youth project by the Housing Association and the Parish Council and also threatening loss of tenancies. The Chairman of the Parish Council had agreed to wait a month, expiring at the end of May, to see whether there is any improvement in behaviour. There have been no recorded incidents for the last two weeks.
    7. On 5 May 2009, there was a meeting of the Youth Development Service, Orbit, the Police, the youngsters and some of their parents who complained of Police harassment.
    8. May 2009. Currently, the Sports Association is taking no action regarding the sub-letting because of the bad behaviour recorded in April.

Members considered how the problem of bad behaviour could be dealt with and whether some of the youngsters could be made "responsible". The difficulty was acknowledged in identifying what is "bad behaviour" and in deciding what to do if bad behaviour comes from someone only loosely connected with the project. Cllr Irwin reminded the Council how well the youth club had been run many years ago by PC Bryan Graves. The following bodies are involved in the current project:

    • The body responsible for subletting the land to the Youth Project is the Sports Association and its members are insistent that safeguards must be introduced in order to be able to have the centre closed down if behaviour is a problem.
    • The body which has agreed to provide funding for the youth worker for three years is Orbit South who, while continuing to support the project at the Sportsfield, agrees that the centre should be closed down if behaviour is a problem.
    • The Parish Council's involvement is 1) the sale of the larger portacabin to the Youth Project which has been agreed at £3,500 and 2) approval of the Sports Association's sub-letting arrangements (not to be unreasonably withheld).
    • The Senior Football Club intends to sell the small portacabin to the Youth Project for £400.
    • The Youth Development Service requires a relatively-long-term agreement because of the amount of money that is to be spent on altering the portacabin, ie moving it, cladding it with timber and completely refitting it. A minimum of three years has been mentioned.

Although not at the meeting, Cllr Rand had suggested that he would like to see the matter of the portacabin(s) settled by the beginning June, otherwise they will deteriorate and detract from the excellent pavilion that has been provided. It is also not possible to finish off the pavilion project and close off the existing entrance etc. as required in the planning permission.

 

RESOLVED: That the Parish Council will continue to actively support the idea of a youth centre at the sportsfield and will also support the Sports Association in any decisions that it makes regarding the sub-letting agreement.

 

B. Questionnaire from Craig Atkins, Community Investment Officer of Orbit South. On 01/06/09, Craig sent a questionnaire which was answered by the Clerk in consultation with the Chairman of the Council (the following includes Craig's supplementary questions and the Clerk's answers):

1. What do you understand to be the reason for the Sedlescombe Youth Project?
The Parish Council received the result of a survey by YDS asking young people in Sedlescombe what they want.
The Parish Council then provided 1) an improved kickabout area, including a shelter which was vandalised, used as a public lavatory and subsequently removed at the request of EVT residents and the Police and 2)an improved playground for children up to 12 following other surveys.
At the beginning, the Scout Hut was chosen because of easy access for the majority and it was agreed that a youth club would share use with the community as an important part of the project. Unfortunately, this has now been dropped and the centre at the sportsfield will only be used for youth on two evenings a week.


2. Who do you believe to be the beneficiaries of this project?
Only young people between the ages of 13 and 19, possibly including some from outside Sedlescombe.


3. Is a Youth Club necessary in Sedlescombe? (Please give reasons for your answer).
Based on surveys undertaken in 2008, a youth club is a popular choice for a limited number of young people and their families in Sedlescombe.


4. Does your organisation fully support the idea of a Youth Club in Sedlescombe?
Parish Councillors have their doubts because of the likelihood that other members of the community will suffer increased incidents of alarm, harassment or distress because of the youth club’s existence.
However, the Council as a whole has voted to support the idea of a youth club at the Sportsfield if the Sports Association (the lessee) is willing to also.

Supplementary question from Craig Atkins: Why do councillors think that there would be increased incidents of anti-social behaviour as a result of a youth club?

Answer from Clerk: Councillors acknowledge that, whilst at the youth centre, there will be control over the youngsters. However, walking back through the Village, as a group, there will be a real possibility of some form of anti-social behaviour based on years of experience. Councillors are concerned that the pavilion could be under additional threat by encouraging a group of youngsters, not necessarily from Sedlescombe, to the sportsfield.

5. How are you supporting this project? What other support could you provide?
Provision of the portacabin and dealing with legal issues.


6. Where, in your opinion is the best site for a Youth Club to be located? What are the advantages of using this site?

No site is perfect. The following information is provided about the ex‐Scout Hut site:
The ex‐Scout Hut site has the advantage of being in close proximity to 120 properties (out of Sedlescombe’s total of 660) where the majority of those who have expressed an interest in joining the Youth Club live. It could continue to be a valuable community asset meeting the needs of those nearby as well as the wider community.
Plenty of parking is available close to the site.
Services presumably still available or close by.
The site is close to the Kickabout Area where there are football and basketball units which can be used at any time.
It might not be necessary to clad the portacabin thus saving a great deal of money.
The portacabins could be sold to the Youth Group and they could do what they want with them without having to obtain the approval of the Sports Association and the Parish Council.

Supplementary question from Craig Atkins: The answer would seem to suggest that the old Scout Hut site is the preferred option for the Parish Council, is this the case? This is a developing situation as we obtain further legal advice. The Council originally agreed to sell its portacabin and, indeed, included income from the sale in the budget for the new pavilion.  At first this amounted to £5,000, later reduced to £3,500.  This was the preferred option.  Now that we know that the sale of the portacabin and retention on the sportsfield would result in a lack of control over the use of the youth centre, it is not such a good idea.  The only sensible way to sell the portacabin to the Youth Group is for it to be moved to another site.  There are also advantages in that the majority of youngsters who are likely to use the facility live close by and concerns about anti-social behaviour occurring on leaving the sportsfield will be irrelevant.  There is also the question of whether youngsters will during darker evenings be happy walking through dark streets to an area which is basically dark.

7. Are there any other sites suitable for a Youth Club in Sedlescombe? What are the drawbacks to using this alternate site?
Other sites have been considered but all will suffer with objections because of concerns related to anti‐social behaviour. It could also take a long time to sort out all the issues that will be raised.

Supplementary question from Craig Atkins: Please explain why it is felt that there will be objections because of concerns of anti-social behaviour? Have concerns already been raised? Yes, when people living in the vicinity of Red Barn Field heard that this had been suggested as a possible site, objections were made to one of our councillors.

8. Are there any current issues preventing this project from moving forward?
Yes.

1. Necessary revisions to the Parish Council/Sports Association Lease caused by the construction of the new pavilion which could have implications for any agreement with the Youth Group.
2. Obtaining death certificate of John Cornford and changing registration of trustees with the Land Registry.
3. Sports Association decision to be made on whether to officially accept the Youth Centre on its land.
4. Parish Council decision to be taken not to sell the portacabin but to lease it.
5. Finding the correct wording for a penalty clause to cover any problems that may arise.
6. Youth Group to appoint trustees.
7. Youth Group to approve the draft agreement.

9. What actions are being taken to overcome these issues and is there a timescale for things to be resolved? What can others do to help overcome these issues?
The following answers should be read in conjunction with the numbers in the previous question
1. Parish Council is obtaining legal advice (draft timescale by 12 noon on Monday 8 June) and then will hold an emergency Council Meeting on Tuesday 9 June).
2. Sports Association to obtain death certificate.
3. For Sports Association to decide.
4. Parish Council to hold emergency meeting Tuesday 9 June)
5. Parish Council to obtain legal advice (draft timescale by 12 noon on Monday 8 June).
6. For Youth Group action as soon as possible.
7. For Youth Group action as soon as possible although there may be some issues to discuss and return for further legal advice.


10. Are there any current concerns about the behaviour of the young people that could prevent this project from moving forward? (Please cite examples).
Yes. Continuation of ongoing problems over years.

Supplementary question from Craig Atkins: I was under the impression that despite a few incidents in April the situation has greatly improved over the past few years so is it possible to clarify with some recent examples of the problems cited? Anti-social behaviour has been quite bad in the last year.  For example

 

November 2008 PCSO report

  • An assault took place at the Halloween disco at the Queens Head.  The youths involved had been previously banned.  This matter is being investigated and the youths involved will be dealt with accordingly.
  • Two youths were seen messing around with cars in Gregory’s Walk.  Nothing was stolen and no damage was caused.
  • Some very young local youths have been knocking on an elderly person’s window.  Youths were given very strong words of advice.
  • Local youths were reported damaging a neighbour’s car.  The incident is currently being investigated.

December 2008 PCSO report

  • Damage was caused to the swimming pool at the Brickwall Hotel.  House to house was conducted with many reports given as suspects being youths from outside the village attending a party.  (This is an example of what happened when youngsters from other areas had an excuse to be in Sedlescombe.) 

January 2009 PCSO report

  • Some windows were smashed on a premises in the Street.  This appeared to be an act of vandalism.

February 2009 PCSO report

  • Garages at East View Terrace were vandalised with considerable damage caused. Investigations are currently taking place although fingers are pointing to local youths.
  • Local youths have been reported hanging around entrances and lobbies in the East View Terrace properties and being rude to residents. Warnings were given to the youths.
  • Rother Homes and Orbit Housing were approached regarding current problems at East View Terrace and suggested that a letter be sent to residents.
  • A fire was started outside one of the garages at East View Terrace causing damage to the tarmac. Local youths denied all knowledge when approached. Strong words of advice were given.
  • Local youths were reported drinking and causing vandalism in various parts of the village.  Another meeting with housing is currently underway to discuss how to eliminate this ongoing problem stemming from the East View Terrace estate.

March 2009 PCSO report

  • Local youths were reported banging on doors at East View Terrace.  Talks are currently taking place with youth workers to help tackle this ongoing problem.  Youths were approached and strong words of advice were given.

April 2009 PCSO report

  • Some local youths were reported on the grounds of Pestalozzi Village.  Youths were later approached and words of warning given.
  • Local youths were reported causing damage to brickwork round the garages of East View Terrace.  Stop forms were issued and parents of all offenders were paid a visit.
  • A large group of local youths were reported using the pub grounds for drinking.  (The pub was closed at the time).  They were disbanded and asked to move on.
  • Local youths were reported rowdy in East View Terrace.  They were disbanded and told to go home.
  • Local youths have been causing problems yet again causing drunken chaos in the village with several reports.  These consisted of damage to a car and rowdy behaviour.  Pestalozzi Village also reported incidents regarding their students having abuse shouted at them.  Also youths were reported hanging around people’s doorways and being abusive.  A meeting is currently underway to be arranged between Orbit and Rother Housing, Youth services together with Police and Parish Council to tackle this nuisance.  The gang of youths in question has grown in number to approximately 15-20 youths.
  • The local shop was asked not to serve drinks to troublesome youths.
  • Local youths were asked to move on from the Village Green as they were rowdy due to drink.  They retaliated with abuse.  A unit had to be called out.
  • Local youths were reported vandalising the telephone box near East View Terrace.
  • A meeting was held between Rother Homes, Orbit Housing, ASBO Officer, Police and Parish Council representative to discuss the recent anti-social issues in the Village.  A plan of action was discussed and has been put into place.
  • Local youths were reported playing chicken across the road.  Youths were paid a visit to their homes and issued stop forms.  One parent became aggressive and was consequently arrested.
  • Drunken youths were reported throwing eggs and yoghurt at a car in the East View Terrace estate.
  • Warning letters were sent out by housing regarding the recent problems with youths in the area.  Visits to certain houses will be paid jointly by housing and police.

Incidents have occurred in June that I know of involving boys playing chicken across Brede Lane, youths parking a car on the Village Green several times and damage to the telephone kiosk at East View again.

 

Additional Supplementary Question from Craig Atkins. It would be useful if the Council could state which of the listed incidents of ASB would have had a direct impact on the running of a youth club, if it had already been in place. This is to give a general idea of what would constitute a breach of the proposed terms of the lease and what incidents would be dealt with through other means. The Clerk has not answered this question.

 

Statements by Craig Atkins re ASB.
It must be made clear in all dealings regarding anti-social behaviour whether or not those responsible are part of the youth group or if they are older individuals that should be dealt with separately. He says that "hopefully this will be easier to keep track of with improved communications between the police, YDS and Orbit".

 

It would be a good idea for the young people to work on an acceptable code of conduct document to cover the behaviour of those attending the youth club and clauses for banning or excluding young people if the need arises.

11. What could be done about these concerns?
Robust legal agreements to be made including provisions to close the facility if problems arise.

YDS have given assurances that they can deal with problems as they arise.


12. Should this project be made more inclusive and what steps could be taken to make this happen?
The entire Village should be kept fully informed of the project and its availability to all youngsters. The YDS are experienced in integration and have agreed to take all necessary action.

 

C. Council Minutes 09/06/09. The following is recorded in the Minutes:

44. 2 Portacabin. The Council considered the implication of not selling the portacabin but, rather, leasing it and accepted that, although the money from the sale had been included in the pavilion budget, there is still money available in the fund without this additional sum (even taking into account the payment that has to be made to Steed Construction Ltd. in September) RESOLVED: That the following alternative action is approved:-

  1. Either: That the Council will sell the 40'x10' portacabin to the Youth Group for £3,500 as agreed but that the portacabin must be removed at the Youth Group's expense from the sportsfield by 1 July 2009 or some other date as agreed.
  2. Or: That the Council will agree to allow the Sports Association to sub-let the two portacabins at the sportsfield to the Youth Group for £300 every six months for an initial term of six months from the start of alterations, renewable for further six-monthly terms for a total of five years when the use shall cease unless planning approval has been renewed. Other requirements, including reasons for terminating the lease, to be written into the lease in accordance with the terms of the draft lease approved by the Sports Association on 08/06/09.
The Clerk will forward the document to the Solicitor for drafting.


D. Draft Lease of portacabins

On 10/06/09, Roger Taylor of Hedleys (Solicitors) was asked to draft a lease of the portacabin in the following terms:

The Landlord        TRUSTEES OF THE SEDLESCOMBE SPORTS ASSOCIATION
The Tenant            TRUSTEES OF SEDLESCOMBE YOUTH GROUP – to be appointed

“The Premises”
40’x10’ portacabin and separate small portacabin and the land in accordance with planning approval RR/2009/287/P. 

The Term
Initial term of 6 months from start of alterations, renewable for further six-monthly terms for a total of five years when the use shall cease unless planning approval has been renewed. 

Termination of the Lease

  • Option for the lease to be terminated at any time, without notice, if funding for a qualified youth worker ceases prior to the end of the five-year period. 
  • Option for the landlord to close the facility, without notice, if problems with the use of the youth centre arise that cannot be solved by discussions between the Sports Association, the Parish Council, Orbit Housing Association and the Youth Development Service.
  • Type of incident which could result in the youth facility being closed
    • Excessive noise which results in complaints from the public
    • Any damage to sportsfield, pavilion, portacabin or other property on the sportsfield
    • Harassment of other users or interruption of others’ use
    • Use of premises or immediate vicinity outside permitted hours
    • Disturbance or damage anywhere in the Village which can reasonably be attributed to those who have attended the Youth Club

Rent – £300 every half-year to the Sports Association to include water services

Other payments

  • Youth Project to pay all charges for alterations to the portacabin and replacement of fencing at front of the site.
  • Youth Project to make own arrangements regarding electricity.  Gas will not be available.
  • Youth Project to pay for public liability and property insurance (copy to be provided to the Sedlescombe Sports Association at the time of each renewal of the lease)

Uses

  • 2 evenings a week throughout the year.  Any exceptional uses must be agreed in advance with the Secretary of the Sports Association.
  • No alcohol to be allowed in the Youth Group premises or in the sportsfield without prior permission from the Sedlescombe Sports Association.
  • Youth Group to be responsible for removing all its rubbish from the portacabin and sportsfield after each use.

The following clause should also be included:
Not to do or permit or suffer to be done in or upon the Premises any act or thing which may be or grow to the annoyance or disturbance of the Landlord or its tenants or the neighbourhood or which may render any increased or extra premium payable for the insurance of the Premises or which may make void or voidable any policy for such insurance or result in insurers declining to renew any such policy or impose unacceptable conditions thereon

 

E. Correspondence with Craig Atkins, Community Investment Officer of Orbit South

The Clerk initially informed Craig of the 2 options relating to the youth centre (see 2 above) in brief terms. He discussed the options with the youth development service and a representative of the youth management committee. It was agreed that "whilst neither of these options is ideal it is still far better to move forward with the project on the sportsfield as previously agreed". Craig also said there should be some discussion about the conditions for terminating the lease and he asked for assurances that the lease will be renewed unless significant issues arise.

 

With the delay in receiving a reply from the Solicitor, the Clerk informed Craig Atkins of the suggestions which had been put forward by the Council (see 3 above). Craig came back with the following:

  1. Re: Option for the lease to be terminated at any time without notice, if funding for a qualified youth worker ceases prior to the end of the five-year period.
    " That the club could become volunteer run with less input from the professionals." He considers that, in the long run, this should not be an issue if the other clauses are in place.
  2. Re: Disturbance or damage anywhere in the Village which can reasonably be attributed to those who have attended the Youth Club.
    That there needs to be clarification so that this "clause can only be used if people cause damage or harassment in the village when they have attended a youth club session and not if they cause a problem completely unconnected to a youth club session. Other incidents need to be dealt with through the proper procedures by the Police or landlords etc."
  3. Re: the portacabin can be used for two evenings a week throughout the year.
    "If funding is available and things go well on a twice a week basis then the project might look to expand to more nights a week and so the lease would need to cover this possibility. Perhaps by reviewing on a six-monthly basis."

F. Draft lease provided by Roger Taylor of Hedleys on 09/06/09. See D above. Roger Taylor has written to say that he has made the Council a party to the Lease in order that it can have a separate right to enforce the provisions of the Lease.. He says "this is slightly unusual but in the circumstances we consider that it is better for the Council to have a direct route against the Tenant rather than always expecting the Trustees to enforce the provisions". Sedlescombe Parish Councillors (apart from Cllr Irwin) were e-mailed a copy of the draft lease on 09/06/09. The Clerk has the following comments to make on the draft:

  1. Landlord's Address. Needs amendment.
  2. Term:
    1. This has been drafted as "Five years from the date of this Lease (subject to termination as hereafter provided)."
    2. This is very different to the Council's suggestion of "Initial term of 6 months from start of alterations, renewable for further six-monthly terms for a total of five years when the use shall cease unless planning approval has been renewed. "
    3. Termination of the lease would rely on the clause "Not to allow or permit any activities which are or may become a nuisance or annoyance to the Landlord, the Council or to the owner or occupier of the neighbouring premises or the community of Sedlescombe."
  3. Clause 2.5.1:
    1. This has been drafted as "To replace the fencing in front of the Property and to maintain the Property and any buildings erected or placed upon it in its existing state and condition."
    2. The Council would not want the building maintained in the state and condition at the time of the grant of the Lease which, presumably, would be prior to the carrying out of the work required by the planning permission.
  4. Clause 3.2
    1. The Sports Association (as Landlord) will be required to keep the Property insured as the portacabin will actually belong to it through the lease in the same way as the pavilion. However, the lease as drafted includes an "additional rent" clause requiring the Tenant to pay for this insurance.
  5. Non-compliance with the lease. Only two events are included in the draft Lease which could result in termination of the Lease. These are ending of funding for the qualified youth worker and bankruptcy or liquidation. All other reasons for termination will rely on the clause at F2(3) above.
  6. Repairing and cleaning the youth centre. The Council requires the Sports Association by the Deed of Variation (clause 2viii) to "From time to time and at all times well and substantially to repair and clean the pavilion and all other buildings now or hereafter to be erected or placed on the Premises and to keep the same and all additions thereto and the structure and the drains pipes wires and cables serving the same in good clean and substantial repair and condition....." The draft lease needs to pass responsibility for maintaining the portacabin(s) to the Sedlescombe Youth Group.
  7. The Sports Association was proposing to allow the Sedlescombe Youth Group to use the sportsfield from time to time for informal games. The draft lease with the Youth Group needs to reflect this.
  8. The Sportsfield Lease to the Sports Association includes keeping the trees in good condition. The draft lease with the Youth Group needs to require them to leave the trees alone.
  9. Parking. There is very limited disabled parking beside the pavilion. The draft lease with the Youth Group needs to ensure that this area is not completely blocked with vehicles in connection with the use of the portacabin.
  10. Nomination to Sports Association Committee. The Sports Association might wish to consider allowing the co-option of a member of the Youth Group Committee to the Sports Association Management Committee.