CONCERNS have been raised over antisocial behaviour at a youth centre since it was closed last year.

Ringwood Town Council has been told of "dangerous and challenging behaviour" from younger members of the community since The Place, at Carvers Playing Field, was closed in October following a spat between the council and Antony Lewis who had been contracted to run its cafe.

Council youth coordinator, Jenny Critchlow, drafted a report for the recreation, leisure and open spaces committee held on Wednesday (MAR 1) as the council prepares to reopen the site to youngsters in the coming weeks.

"Having witnessed young people's behaviour over the last few weeks via CCTV I do not envisage it being an easy ride for the staff team when we take over," she said. "There has been a distinct lack of boundaries and these need re-establishing. We need the support of councillors in the decisions we make as a staff team and this may be having to close some sessions early as our maxim has always been you abuse it, you lost it.

"Having seen various sessions on CCTV it is clear that there have not been large numbers of young people in The Place so I am optimistic that things will settle given a little time."

In May last year, firefighters were called to the building after an alleged arson attack. A then 15-year-old boy was interviewed by police after a lit blanket was found stuffed inside the air vent. The £500,000 facility was full of people at the time of the incident.

Councillor Jeremy Heron clarified the proportion of time youth workers would intend to have face-to-face contact with young people. Ms Critchlow suggested that two-thirds of time would be spent on direct contact, however this would vary depending on the experience of the youth worker and also how the individual sessions had been.

Members supported suggested policies that would need to be taken to tackle youths' challenging behaviour and were clear that, in the event of the need to shut the facility, that it be the decision of the town council staff running the session at the time. Ms Critchlow also requested the council’s backing to enforce the ‘no smoking/vaping’ rule and it was suggested that there be some signage to reinforce this.