The Minister for Education, Dr John Cortes, promised yesterday that the Laguna Youth Club would not be demolished until the proposed temporary alternative at St Teresa’s hall is ready.
He made the comment during a meeting of the Development and Planning Commission, of which he is a member.
“I can assure them [the Laguna parents] that the old youth club will not be demolished until the temporary location, which is St Teresa’s Hall courtesy of the church, will be provided and refurbished in order for the youth to use it before the demolition proceeds,” said Dr Cortes.
Residents were not only concerned regarding the Youth Club but also the play areas adjacent to it.
On this, Dr Cortes commented: “We are also now close to identifying an area which will be made available for the young people as a kick-about area while the works are going on.”
“In the longer term, the youth club, the adventure playground and kick-about area will be fully re-provisioned in the new plans, they can be absolutely sure we are looking after their interests,” he added.
The minister also said that the Government would make an announcement very soon about the new schools it will be building in the area.
Independent MP Marlene Hassan-Nahon was present for the meeting, having been involved in asking the Government questions on the project when contacted by concerned residents of the estate.
“It’s all about priority and the domino effect and the Minister [Dr Cortes] has said that the demolition will go ahead once St Teresa’s has been secured and prepared as a temporary site. It’s a fair compromise, in order to make those schools then so be it. It’s all positive,” Mrs Hassan-Nahon said.
Also present at the meeting yesterday was Laguna estate resident Anne-Marie Struggles.
Mrs Struggles was pleased with Dr Cortes’s announcement, “if he keeps to it.”
“In 2015 we were assured that the Laguna Youth Club would not be touch – ‘we will build around it’ they said- and then the next thing I know they are sampling the ground,” she said.
She said when Mrs Hassan-Nahon got involved she was told by the Government she was jumping the gun but a few weeks later it is up for demolition at DPC.
On a positive note, she said she was “feeling relieved that John Cortes has assured us that our kids will not be moved into an unsafe place, that it will be what we have now and the kids will not lose anything.”
Mrs Struggles not only wants to ensure it will be safe but also “we would also want a partition build so that the IT room can continue. Bet Victor [locally based gaming company] donated the kit and we don’t want it put to the side.”
“But apart from that there are a lot of kids who don’t have IT skills and they don’t have IT equipment at home because they can’t afford it. We need to make sure that is not lost,” she added.