A YOUTH club is closing after serving a community for over 35 years.

Leadgate Youth Centre, which opened in 1981, is currently based in Eden Miners’ Hall on Watling Street.

But members have been told the centre will no longer be running after Friday, March 31, due to the removal of funding from Durham County Council.

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Youth leader Dave Collingwood, 62, who lives in Shotley Bridge, was headteacher of Burnhope Primary School before he retired and worked at the centre for 31 years.

He said: “The members are very sad after all of these years and it will take a while for it to sink in.

“It will maybe not hit home as much until the winter months are back and they realise they cannot just pop up to the youth club.”

The centre offers activities for around 20 children, aged 12-18, three evenings a week and has pool and table tennis facilities and a sports hall where people can play tennis, badminton and football.

Youth workers also hold personal development sessions with members discussing issues including drug and alcohol awareness, healthy eating and sexual health.

Tracy Moore, 28, from Leadgate, used to go as a child and is now an auxiliary youth worker.

She said: “People are very disappointed. It is very sad for me to see things go the way they have.”

The local authority was giving around £5,000 a year in building maintenance grants, with additional money depending on what sessions were being offered.

It is now hoped a community group will be able to move into the building, which is owned by the youth centre, to provide something for young people in the village.

Leadgate Area Partnership is looking at ways to save services and is also hoping to organise a programme of activities for the summer with Consett YMCA.

Durham County Council reviewed its youth service provision last year and proposals to cease open access from April 1 were approved by cabinet in September.

A spokesman for the authority said offers of support during the transition, and the chance to discuss options for future provision, were not taken up by the youth club.

Carole Payne, head of children’s services, said: “We appreciate that not all projects will be in a position to sustain their provision once the new arrangements come into force.

"The council recognised in its review the significant contribution of the voluntary and community sector (VCS) in providing young people with access to a range of activities and opportunities to enjoy in their leisure time.

"Over 1,000 projects delivered by the VCS were identified as part of the review.

“Young people attending Leadgate Youth Club will be supported to identify other opportunities that are available to them through the VCS.”