BURNLEY youngsters are to get more places to meet their friends through a £300,000 Teenzone programme.

The council is to continue to provide and improve youth shelters across the borough - a move which has the full backing of the police.

The future of the shelters, which provide a meeting place for youngsters and are sited across the town, was in doubt after concerns over juvenile nuisance were expressed by some councillors.

But a police sergeant consulted by the council says that the shelters have the power to reduce juvenile nuisance by up to 25 per cent.

Sgt Martin Selway said: "The police in Burnley helped to secure funding of £5,000 for the first youth shelter in Harle Syke two years ago.

"Since it was erected the number of times we have been called out in that area to move youths on has dropped by a quarter.

"From our point of view they are a good thing and we have been asking the council for a long time to think about how they could be expanded throughout the borough."

Sgt Selway explained that the main perpetrators of minor juvenile nuisance are 14 to 17 year olds.

"There is very little in the way of provision for this age group and a lot of these kids do not want to go to organised activities, they want to meet their mates informally.

"I think it is only proper to provide some form of meeting place in the form of a shelter."

The council has decided to implement a 'Teenzone' programme that would see £300,000 from the Government's North West Development Agency spent on the provision of new facilities at the existing shelters.

Youth workers and teenagers who use the sites are to be consulted during the process.

The sites earmarked for an overhaul are in Parkinson Street, Every Street, Hargher Clough, Piccadilly Gardens, Forfar Street, Whittlefield recreation ground, Sunny Clough, Healy Wood, Abel Street, Queens Park, Fulledge and Accrington Road.

A spokesman for the council said: "After consultation with the police it became clear that the shelters provide a much needed base for young people to meet.

"On balance the shelters provide more of a plus than a negative. There has to be a consensus locally.

"It is important that sites are safe, local police are aware of them and they are supported by people living nearby."