Youth Zone = battle zone!

Artist's impression of Wigan Youth Zone
Artist's impression of Wigan Youth Zone

WORK on Wigan’s multi-million-pound Youth Zone has been halted before it begins because of one man’s last-ditch bid to spike it.

A solicitor’s letter requesting a judicial review on behalf of resident Brian Parr has meant that the construction teams which were due to move onto the Mesnes playing field this month have been stood down.

One of the millionaire backers of the ambitious plan to create Europe’s biggest and best boys and girls’ club, said that the move could derail the whole project.

Martin Ainscough, who has staked £1m of his own money in the project, said he was “bewildered, disappointed and upset” at the latest legal challenge.

Members of the Mesnes Conservation Group have campaigned against the siting of the complex on the field next to New Market Street, saying the open land is too precious to lose.

However, two bids to claim it as a village green have failed and, after Wigan Council gave it planning permission, handed the land over to the charity running the zone and agreed to meet part of its annual running costs, it looked like it was all systems go. But the sod-cutting ceremony which took place on August 12 may yet prove to have been premature after Scholes flats resident and conservation group member Mr Parr’s intervention.

He said he was seeking a review in the High Court to “support the judicious principle of sustaining green, open space in Wigan town centre for all people.”

But when asked by the Observer “why” and “on what grounds” he refused to answer, preferring to issue a statement.

Mr Ainscough said: “It is so upsetting that one person or a small group of people can create so much delay, havoc and even risk the whole future of this enterprise for the children of Wigan.”