Tilehurst teenagers are turning to crime and are suffering because of a lack of community facilities, residents have claimed. 

A lack of youth clubs and facilities for young people aged 13 and upwards is causing issues for the wider community, according to those living near by.

This is despite new community centre Dee Space opening up last year - but the facility is yet to provide any specific programmes or youth clubs for teenagers. 

The Chronicle visited Tilehurst to speak to residents about their thoughts on what needs to be done. 

Retired Chris Matta, in her 70s, said that she thinks the new community centre is “a complete waste of time” and isn’t benefitting young people.

“It’s only really used for meetings,” she said. “The children’s section is for toddlers, so from the ages of 10-14 there is nothing for them to do.

“Once they get to 14, they are a nightmare. They just ride around on their bikes without helmets and aren’t aware of oncoming traffic. It’s only a matter of time until someone gets killed!

“They should have a games night at the community centre. We need to get them off the streets.”

A spokesperson for Peabody the housing company that runs Dee Space said it doesn't provide youth services but still has a "strong social purpose" as a business.  

The spokesman said: “We’re as keen as local people are to ensure this fantastic new facility is well used and valued. 

“As a housing association, we don’t provide statutory youth services. But as an organisation with a strong social purpose that is committed to adding value to communities, we’re eager for local groups and organisations to use the space for activities for young people.

“Well-respected youth group Grassrootz currently runs a session for juniors from Dee Space on Thursdays, focusing on fun, games and mentoring, and they are planning to organise more activities as the weather gets warmer."

Both Ms Matta and Jane Taylor, another Tilehurst resident, said that although the police regularly patrol Spey Road, they aren’t really making a difference to the issue.

While Kevin Chaplain, referencing a recent visit from Labour leader Keir Starmer, said that Starmer had told them that he would get more police on the ground in he is successful at the next election.

But due to the all the alleyways in the area in Tilehurst, Mr Chaplain said it was doubtful police would be able to pursue offenders.  

Ms Matta said: “We have a play area with a basketball court, but it’s full of broken glass. I always tell my grandson to be careful.”

Clive Taylor, the former chairman of a local youth club, said the area once had many organisations to support teenagers but sadly that had dwindled over the years. 

Mr Taylor said: “If you went back a long way there were quite a few youth clubs in Tilehurst, but now the only one that still exists is Tilehurst Junior Youth Club above the Co-op on the triangle.

“The issue is that only caters for the eight to 12-year-old age range, and part of the problem is once they get to 13 years of age there isn’t another youth club for them to go to.”

He said that in the past youth clubs would have had an older age group running on a different evening, and the lack of this now isn’t helping the anti-social behaviour.

Mr Taylor said that a few years ago to combat youth crime in local parks he and a few other councillors formed a committee to carry out a youth survey.

“We sent the survey to two secondary schools and asked them what they would like to see in Tilehurst to benefit young people, and we had a staggering response.”

The parish council then started to put a plan together and over the last couple of years they introduced youth workers to tackle areas affected by anti-social behaviour.

They also opened a club for the 12 to 15 age range that runs on a Thursday evening at the Jubilee Annex in Calcot.

The club has table tennis tables, computer games equipment, and run general activities.

They also opened two sports clubs in the Cotswold Sport’s Centre which run on Thursdays and Tuesdays.

“These are more football-related,” he said. “But again, it’s helping young people have something to do.”

Mr Taylor said that the Parish currently has plans that are well-advanced to open a youth club for the 15 to 18 age range, but they need to secure more funding.

“We’ve also put new equipment into parks. In the last few weeks we opened in Cotswold Park a multi-use games area which has a football and netball court.

“We also put in a table tennis and an outdoor gym.”