www.watton-norfolk.org.uk  richard@watton-norfolk.org.uk

Much discussion is taking place in the press over the past few weeks about the provision of
something for the young people of Watton to do in the evenings. We are very lucky that
we have a large variety of well organised sporting and service orientated clubs serving the
many hundreds of youngsters who want to get involved.
But what about the rest.

We hear often about the gangs of 'youths' who roam the streets at night.
Who are these 'Youths'? Are they young adults, at work or otherwise and
are not interested in activities normally associated with this age group?

Most of the Youth Clubs run by the Children's Services of the County Council
cater for young people in the age range of 13 -19. These groups, of which we
had 3 based at the Youth Centre are very much funding lead and because of this, we are now
down to one, on a Monday. A variety of privately run groups based at the Youth Centre range
from a play group for the very young to a variety of sporting clubs
and adults groups. The centre does not make huge profits and
all the users share the running costs.

The idea of a Kick Wall came about from a list of options given
in a survey done at the High School. Well done to the young people who showed initiative
and did the work. The whole idea has been shrouded in doubts raised by the introduction of
an article and pictures of a wall erected in Thetford without any thought or even planning
permission. This wall forms part of a games area inside a wooden wall.
The quality is good but it is in the wrong place, adjoining two roads and a church.

If such a kick wall were to be put in the top of the youth centre car park
it would replace a goal post  that was for some years in place. Many  a youngster has
chased after the balls as they ran across the car park and often into Harvey Street.

It would be properly and professionally erected using materials that have sound
deadening qualities  and the width and enclosed back make chasing after ball a thing
of the past. The funding for this is already in place and cleaning
and any repairs should not be a cost to Watton ratepayers.

Pictures below show the kick wall and its attending Youth Shelter in the recreation
park in Dereham. These, along with the skate park are well used.
The kick wall has facilities for cricket and net ball.

Any facilities of this nature are unlikely to get the interest of the few youngsters who
congregate in odd areas of the town in the evenings. It is more 'fun' to be with
the boy racers at the Queens Hall or kick footballs at cars from Chaston Place.
What a pity the CCTV cameras haven't picked them up.

Still all is not all doom and gloom. Attendance at the junior sporting
clubs at the sports centre is on the up. Dance groups are flourishing at the Youth Centre.
The Scout Group is starting up again. Guides and Brownies are doing well. The ATC is
enormously successful and deserves all the praise it regularly gets in the press.
The ACF is doing well. Many young people from the High School give up
time to work with and entertain our senior citizens.

This is not the time to quote from long forgotten documents relating to
who can use the Youth Centre and its field. The mixture of young and old keep it running.
To sell the Building and or the field would leave many people of all ages with no base as
nothing else compares with it in central Watton. The neighbours would not
be to pleased about that either!

Everyone must accept that Watton, at this time, only has a few places that can
be used for play areas. Stokes Avenue has an area of land given to the Town for a play
area and skate park. This was fully funded at the time but NIMBYism stopped
that and the funding was lost. We have the children's play area at the Sports
Centre which has recently been upgraded and is well used by the under 12's.
We have the Millennium Gardens at the traffic lights which is used all the time as a place to
sit and rest. Soon the water will be back. We have allotments and part of the Cemetery
at St Mary's. The town will soon have a new set of allotments on land kindly
leased to the town for 10 years for this purpose by Mrs Tilson.

Breckland own many of the small green areas in the town and some may in turn
come into the ownership of the town. Most are very small except the green in George
Trollope Road. Other seemingly open areas are in private ownership and
with land prices being very high it is unlikely that they will part with them.