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Issue 5 - May 1972
Youth Centre
The situation of Durham kids has become even worse since the closure of Dunelm House to all but card carrying students - who mostly stay in their colleges anyway - and the kids themselves have nothing else to do at night but to hang around the streets of Durham trying to make their own amusement, otherwise termed as 'causing trouble'. An allocation of money was made in the period '66 to '67 to build a youth centre but so far nothing has happened. Granted the slow rate of work of local government departments this still seems a bit slow.

The County Council is primarily responsible for the building of a Youth Centre and when the allocation was made (an allocation, incidentally, is not a grant of money but permission to use a certain sum of the Council's own money for a specific purpose) they settled on a site in Feren's Park. This is not an ideal site for several reasons - an approach road would have to be built, the site is on sloping ground and it is rather close to the houses of sundry local worthies. It's funny we should mention that last point because it has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that Durham City Council suddenly became fired with enthusiasm for this Youth Centre idea and public spiritedly offered the Sands as being a much more convenient site.

The Sands
The Sands is an expanse of perfectly flat ground in the centre of Durham, just by the Ice Rink. It is an ideal site for several reasons - it is flat and so easier to build on, no approach road will have to be built, it could hardly be more central, the proximity of the river makes canoeing possible - to name but a few. No doubt to the relief of aforesaid local worthies and the Feren's Park Soccer Club, the County Council leapt enthusiastically at this offer, negotiations were proceeding apace and all looked set for a happy ending when the Freemen woke up to the fact that the herbage rights were being violated behind their backs (or words to that effect).

Herbage rights apparently are a privilege of the Durham Freemen and enable them to graze their cattle for free in various places (in this case the Sands) and hold exhibitions such as the Easter Fair which blew everybody's minds a few weeks ago. In actual fact it is the City Council which owns the freehold of the Sands but since it would take an Act of Parliament to override the Freemen's herbage rights it's kind of difficult for them to do anything with it against the wishes of this august body. The Chairman of the Freemen, Mr L Anderson, although otherwise helpful, declined to comment on the respective merits of herbage rights and Youth Centres. It is an unworthy thought to connect the decision of the Freemen and any possible loss of revenue from the exhibitions they are permitted to hold on the Sands - we are sure that this never occurred to them.

It is possible that there will be a sort of Youth Centre at Milburngate, incorporated with a projected theatre in a projected shopping centre, since it would be a reduction in scope on the original plan and building would not start until at least 1978 (if at all), this seems to be a somewhat second rate idea. The County Council is still energetically looking for a site but, although held over for the '67-'68 period, the allocation has now been withdrawn. Mr A C Angus, County Youth and Community Officer, whose responsibility this is at County Hall, told us that the County Council feel that it is really up to the City Council to produce a site, since they offered them one. He did wonder whether Durham was in any more need than other parts of the County but we agreed that it wasn't any less.


Official indifference has stood in the way of attempts to organise an Arts Centre. The idea has been put forward independently but as yet, little practical support has appeared. But it can still be done. Those interested contact Rich at Muther Grumble.

Stop press

The petition demanding immediate action by the City Council is fast approaching the 4000 mark with many copies yet to come in. The aim is to get over 5000 signatures to present to the City Council. Anyone with any further ideas, suggestions or is interested in helping, please make contact through MG.