A COUNCIL has said anti-social behaviour will not rise when a youth club leader moves to a different job.

People living in the Branksome area of Darlington are worried that groups of youths could start to congregate again once youth club leader Judy Bowerbank starts her new job.

But Darlington Borough Council said Mrs Bowerbank will continue her work at Branksome Youth Club.

From next month, Mrs Bowerbank will be working with several other youth centres in the town, encouraging children to study for Duke of Edinburgh awards.

This means she will no longer be based at Branksome - and residents said they feel that this will have a negative effect on the community.

"It would definitely lead to more anti-social behaviour," said Neil Westmorland, from Selby Crescent, whose children Kaylie, 15, and Robert, 17, attend the youth centre.

"Before the youth club started, there used to be anything from 30 to 60 people walking about in gangs, carrying on.

"Ever since she dragged them to the youth club, that's stopped.

"Instead of causing trouble, they go canoeing and camping and things like that.

"But if she leaves, you can guarantee it will start up again."

Howard Gilfillan, headteacher of Branksome Comprehensive School, said: "I wouldn't want her to leave for the sake of the children.

"Somebody could fill the gap I assume, but it may not be the same. The kids could get disenchanted if she left."

Children and parents are campaigning for the council to keep Mrs Bowerbank at Branksome, and are organising a petition.

A Darlington Borough Council spokesman said: "She will still be involved there, as well as many other areas of the town.

"Her main function is the Duke of Edinburgh scheme and the aim of moving Judy on is so she can concentrate on that work.

"It's very much a case of onwards and upwards and she certainly won't be disappearing."