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Laguna Youth Club demolition plan has residents concerned

Government plans to demolish the Laguna Estate Youth Club have drawn concern from some residents.

An application filed with Town Planning will be discussed at this morning’s meeting of the Development and Planning Commission. The application does not need approval and is only submitted for feedback.

The government has not filed any future plans for the site as yet.

One angered resident is Anne-Marie Struggles, who is not only disappointed at the prospect of losing the Youth Club, but also at what she described as the lack of communication and transparency from the Government on the issue.

Mrs Struggles told the Chronicle that the Laguna Youth Club is one of the most successful ones on the Rock, with 80 children attending each day on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and some Saturdays and Sundays. On occasion the members go on day trips to Spain and are currently planning a trip to Tangier.

“The Youth Club is an important connection for residents and families,” Mrs Struggles said.

“We have troubled kids on the estate or kids whose parents work, and this is a safeguard for children.”

She is concerned that losing the Youth Club, the basketball court and the playground will leave the children with nowhere else to play.

“There are no other play areas and loads of kids have hyperactivity,” she said, adding that even if the facilities are replaced this will take significant time.

Meanwhile “there is no safe place for them to play if we lose this.”

“They take it away without a second thought.”

Residents first heard that their “important” Youth Club could be razed to the ground three weeks ago when they noticed that ground sampling was taking place. They involved Independent MP Marlene Hassan-Nahon to endeavour to get more information.

In reply to her questions, the Minister for Education, Dr John Cortes said: “These site investigations are a sign of good news to come for the regular users of the youth club facilities.”

“We will make a more detailed announcement as soon as we are able to do so and have no doubt that it will be very welcome by the users and their families.”

This “lack of transparency” and communication vexes Mrs Struggles and she queries why both are lacking.

“A big issue is that residents were not informed, some families here cannot afford internet and only hear things by hearsay,” she said.

She also noted that the loss of the tenants association has also affected the estate.

The previous Chairman moved out of the estate and no other residents have been willing to take a position within the association.

Mrs Struggles marks this down to the problems the association has to deal with such as anti-social behaviour, parking and on-going construction.

She said that she personally has been living in “a construction site for six years,” with the loss of potable water, salt water and electricity happening on a regular basis.

She states that the loss of the Youth Club, added to the woes already being borne by residents, is “making us suffer.”

“We have monkeys invading our homes, ambulances and fire vehicles that cannot get through, and then you take away our safe haven,” she added.

According to Mrs Struggles the Government floated the idea of having St Teresa’s Hall in Glacis as a temporary Youth Club.
This prompted Mrs Struggles and some other residents to check the facility out, but they found it unsuitable.

She concedes that the building of a school is welcome, but also highlights that “growing up is not just about school it is about being part of the community and the Youth Club offers that.”

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