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January 19 2012

The ribbon will be cut this week to officially open almost £800,000 worth of improvements to a youth and community centre in East Sussex.

The formal opening of the Mercread Centre in Seaford on Friday 20 January will be carried out by former British paralympian Kristina Veasey. The project was funded by East Sussex County Council to replace and improve youth facilities in the town.

Kristina Veasey, a member of the British women's basketball team in the Paralympics of 2000 and 2004 will be joined for the opening celebration by representatives from the County Council, the centre's management committee and various other people who have worked for Seaford's young people over many years.

Cllr Nick Bennett, who will attend the ceremony, is the County Council's Lead Member for Learning and School Effectiveness. He said: "I'm delighted we have been able to work so closely with the National Association of Clubs for Young People and its management committee to bring this exciting project to fruition. We have been able to provide significantly improved facilities at Mercread that can be used and enjoyed by young people for many years to come.

"This has been an extremely complex project for a number of reasons, and it has taken longer than I hoped it would, but I think the results have been worth waiting for."

Roger Daw, Chair of the centre's management committee, said: "This is so exciting, a unique opportunity for us to engage with all the young people of Seaford and with the community to listen to their needs and offer a really interesting range of activities. In the current climate there will be economic challenges but we look forward to facing these and providing something special."

The Centre in Mercread Road offers youth work sessions provided by the County Council's Targeted Youth Support Service, a broad range of activities for 3- to 19-year-olds, and facilities for other community groups.

In a complex capital project the centre was allocated a £775,000 budget for a major building upgrade by the County Council. It now boasts a new multi-purpose hall suitable for sports activities, a social area including coffee bar and snug, a large accessible demonstration kitchen, small meeting room, and self-contained large area ideal for hiring out for children's parties and meetings.

As well as welcoming the significant improvements to the youth facilities at the centre, the management committee is particularly keen to use the building to create stronger links between older and young people in the area.

Friday's ceremony marks the official launch of the centre but activities are already underway for the young people of Seaford and surrounding areas.