THE manager of Rossendale Youth Zone says he has been overwhelmed by the number of young people coming from across the valley to use the newly- updated centre.

The old fire station in Burnley Road, Rawtenstall, has been kitted-out with the latest music equipment, a dance and performance space, and a multi-media suite.

More than 60 youngsters have been turning up at the evening sessions since the refurbished facility reop-ened on February 7.

Kaleem Anwar, manager of the youth zone, said he is delighted with how popular the centre has become.

He said: “We’re over-whelmed with the numbers we’ve been getting through the doors since the upgrade.

“Young people are coming in from Haslingden and surrounding villages, which is astonishing given the weather we’ve been having recently.

“We're getting numbers of young people which are almost unheard of at this time of year in our line of work.”

The youth zone is run by Lancashire County Coun-cil’s Young People’s Serv-ice.

It also features a large scale open social area and coffee bar, a cyber café, a meeting and activity room, extensive multi-media ICT provision and wi-fi access, small rooms for one-to-one work and improved access.

Liam Kershaw, 14, said: “The old fire station used to be okay, but we didn’t have enough space for the kitchen and there wasn’t as much to do.

“There was one broken television and not everybody could play on the Xbox.

“We only had two old computers which were very slow.

“Now we have lots of new technology like Xboxes, fast computers and smart TVs.

“There is also a big kitchen, a dance studio, lots of open space, and really nice furniture. It’s very cool.”

Sarah Galbraith, 16, said: “The zone is a place where young people like us come together to socialise.

“It’s a place where you always feel welcome and well looked after.

“It has much better facilities than before and also we now have a dance studio and a media room.

“There is something for everyone to do and we enjoy spending our time here together.”

Coun Matthew Tomlin-son, the county council’s cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: “When I attended the opening of the youth zone, I heard lots of positive feedback from the young people.

“And when you see the facilities, you can understand why.”

A multi-use games area is planned for later this year.