Sale of youth cafe building ‘will cost more in long-run’

A youth cafe in Onchan faces an uncertain future following the local authority’s announcement it intends to sell the building.

At Monday’s meeting, Onchan Commissioners confirmed its plan to sell 44 Main Road, which has been open to teenagers as Kenyon’s Cafe for a number of years.

The authority’s chief executive, Malcolm Hulme, said that instead they would be looking to see if they could develop further the existing youth and community centre, in School Road.

Onchan MHK Peter Karran, one of the members of the Kenyon’s Cafe Trust, said the decision was ‘very disappointing’ and short-sighted.

‘There is a hardcore clientele within Kenyon’s which actually left to their own devices will cost both the commissioners and government much more by taking this action,’ he said.

Mr Karran bought the building in the 1990s to run the facility, but then sold it to the commissioners with the trust leasing it from them.

The Department of Education and Children youth service runs three evening sessions per week (Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday) at the facility. The minimum age is 14, except on a Wednesday when it is 12.

This is in addition to a session for children aged eight to 11 at the Community Centre on School Road.

On Friday, the busiest evening, about 50 young people attend.

Head of the youth service Ken Callister said the commissioners’ decision was ‘a mistake’.

‘We will see a greater number of young people in their teenage years wandering round the streets of Onchan.’

He said teenagers didn’t feel the current provision at the community centre was geared up towards them: ‘Teenagers need to have something they feel is their own.’

Mr Hulme said Onchan Commissioners had been reviewing all its commercial properties.

He said the trust’s rent was only a ‘peppercorn rate’ of about £100 per year.

The building used to house a butcher’s shop.