MP’s bid to help Belper youth club

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An MP is calling for help to raise a struggling youth group from the ashes after it was targeted by arsonists last year.

The Blue Box Youth Club, in Park Road, Belper, was left homeless after it was devastated by a fire, which is believed to have been started deliberately, in August last year.

Since then, the club has been operating out of a van.

Now Mid Derbyshire MP Pauline Latham is taking action to help the group back to its feet.

She said: “I went before Christmas and met with the youth leader and youngsters.

“They were having to sit in a van with the door wide open and there was snow on the ground.”

The Blue Box club provided a lot of youngsters on Belper’s Parks Estate with a place to go.

“I wanted to help these young people because they need somewhere safe to go,” she continued.

Pauline said after the group asked for her help, she approached businesses and organisations to see what she could do and is currently in talks with a local businessman about the possibility of providing some portable cabins for the former site.

Members of Amber Valley Borough Council are due to debate a planning application to demolish the existing buildings in a meeting next week.

Upon the request of the club, Pauline sent a letter to Belper Town Council, asking if it might be able to spare some of its £350,000 reserves to help the Blue Box Youth Group.

She said: “They will need proper toilets as well as a disabled toilet and they will need some equipment.

“I was just asking if the town council can help - if they can help that would be great.”

Mayor Joe Booth said the Blue Box club had never made a grant application to the town council for help, and if they did so councillors would happy to consider it.

He said: “I would love to see them make a grant application, this is what the council is about - helping these groups.”

Cllr Booth added that in order to consider a grant application however, the youth group would need to approach it with a specific sum and explain how it was planning to use it.

“We have got to know what the sum is and what it is for,” he explained, “at the end of the day this is rate payers money.”