Official opening for £5m centre

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A £5M youth facility in Airedale has officially opened for business.

The Hut welcomed youngsters from across the Five Towns to a special opening ceremony last Friday.

Olympic torchbearers Steven Greatorex, Les D’Arcy and Karen Townend helped open the Kershaw Avenue community centre, which offers training, meeting and recreational facilities for young people.

Neil Kennedy, chief executive of the Chrysalis Youth and Community Project, said: “We are relieved to see The Hut built and open after five years of waiting. We are overjoyed with it and look foward to people coming and seeing it.”

The long-awaited scheme by Wakefield Council and Chrysalis was funded by a grant from the previous government’s MyPlace initiative.

Original plans had included a learning academy, but the plans were axed at the end of 2010 when the Department for Education clawed back £660,000 in funding.

Youngsters helped write the funding bid, worked with architects to design the centre, chose the furniture and worked out how the centre could be used to meet the needs of other young people and the wider community.

Coun Peter Box, leader of the council, said: “This is a great occasion to show how the council, voluntary sector, young people and the wider community can all get together to make things happen.

“As well as proving excellent facilities on site, The Hut is set to become a base for volunteers and community groups to get new activities for young people up and running across the whole district – particularly in those areas where there is little for young people to do in the evenings and at weekends.”

The state-of-the-art centre includes a ten pin bowling alley, sports and performance hall, games room, cinema, cyber café, recording studio, outdoor gym and floodlit all weather pitch.

It will also host groups focusing on alcohol, pregnancy and sexual health, social skills and healthy eating.