A DELAYED flagship youth centre in Witney will reopen within weeks after a £750,000 revamp.

Witney Young People’s Centre in Witan Way had been due to open in September but has been hit by problems with the gas main.

Oxfordshire County Council now expects to open the centre later this month or in early March. It will become one of seven ‘hubs’ across Oxfordshire and, as well as youth services, will house new support services.

It will provide help for youngsters not in education employment or training (Neets), careers advice and services relating to substance misuse, antisocial behaviour and absences from school.

The council pumped cash into the centre after cutting funding to 22 youth centres across Oxfordshire, including in Eynsham, Carterton and Chipping Norton. All those centres have since been saved by community groups.

Youth centre user Nicky Wishart, 13, from Eynsham, said: “I am excited about this.

“I have seen some of the pictures from inside and they have knocked through some rooms. It is massive.

“The delay is not a big deal, and if it is all it is said to be then it should be really good.”

Matty Yallop, 17, who campaigned to save youth centres last year, said: “Obviously the earlier it opens the better, but if there is a problem with the site there is not a great deal they can do.”

Former youth worker Mike Beal, who was made redundant during the cuts, said: “It must be particularly embarrassing for Oxfordshire County Council to have delays on what should be a flagship centre in the Prime Minister’s constituency.

“I feel for the young people in Witney in not having their centre for so long.

“They should not have been left out in the cold for nearly a year.”

Mark Bennett, youth worker at Witney youth centre Base 33, said: “We can only cope with so many young people, and having the main youth centre missing has been very difficult.

“They would normally deal with generic youth work, whereas we specialise, and there has been nowhere for that to take place in Witney since June.”

Base 33 specialises in helping disadvantaged youngsters.

It runs sessions for teenage mothers, the jobless and those suffering alcohol or drugs problems.

Council spokesman Annette Nix said foundation designs had to be changed after workers discovered problems with the location of the gas main.

The council was left hundreds of pounds out of pocket in September when thieves stole items including a computer, games console and television from the building.

No one has been arrested for the break-in.