calls are being made for a multi-million-pound town centre regeneration scheme to include activities to keep young people off the streets – and out of trouble.
Work will start later this year on the Hebburn community hub, incorporating everything from a new swimming pool to gym facilities, a new library and a customer service centre.
But town councillors want to ensure the revamp plans also include something for young people to do.
Coun Richard Porthouse, chairman of South Tyneside Council’s Hebburn community area forum, said: “This is the ideal opportunity to give our young people in Hebburn some top-quality facilities.
“We want to provide a space or meeting place for them, rather than have them hanging about on the streets.
“Apart from the usual sporting activities, it would be good to see a facility created just for teenagers, with computers or other activities to keep young people interested, which will also help reduce anti-social behaviour.
“The Hebburn hub is very important to the town, and we have to get it right.”
Coun Eddie McAtominey, one of those spearheading the town centre regeneration initiative, said: “There is scope for numerous activities within the hub.
“Although I don’t believe we have major problems with our teenagers, we are still consulting over the plans, and there is potential for an outdoor space for young people.”
Details of the hub project were announced by the council last autumn, after years of frustration over the state of the run-down 1960s town centre.
The blueprint for change also followed the collapse of talks between the council and retail giants Tesco and Asda over plans to create a large supermarket in the centre.
The hub scheme has sparked some concerns over the future of both Hebburn Community Centre and the town’s swimming pool, but councillors stress that no final decisions have been made on the future of the existing leisure facilities.
The Hebburn hub also includes a new housing element and space for a new store off Glen Street.
Dozens of outdated town centre maisonette blocks have been demolished over the last year as part of the regeneration plans.