BLACKBURN Youth Zone has secured a £400,000 grant from the council towards its operating costs for the coming year after its successful opening in June.

The £8 million youth centre, in Jubilee Street, which is complete with a fully-equipped gym, music and media facilities and a football pitch on the roof, is aimed at providing a safe haven for youngsters aged from eight to 21 to have fun.

With more than 100 volunteers helping run 25 different activities, up to 3,000 youngsters are attending the club, which is modelled on the legendary Bolton Lads’ and Girls’ Club, every week.

Blackburn with Darwen Council’s executive board formally gave the zone its own budget within the leisure and culture portfolio.

The £400,000 needed to run the new youth scheme had been held by the resources directorate while the centre got up and running.

But now the annual cost has been earmarked long-term for the £8million project to go ahead as a key element of the authority’s provision for the borough’s young.

It costs £1million to run each year and the remained of the cash is gained from grants, patrons and sponsors.

Executive member for leisure and culture, Damian Talbot said: “This budget for the Youth Zone was in the resources portfolio before the Youth Zone facility was open.

“The Youth Zone is a facility for young people so any budget naturally sits within the culture, leisure, sport and young people portfolio.”

The Youth Zone is open every day of the year and costs just 50p per night after a sign-up fee of £3.

Junior club manager David Palmer said: “There’s so much going on here now for youngsters. It’s a complete change to what they have had in previous years.

“We’re getting about 150 to 160 in each session, and the most popular bits are the kick pitch, where we split sessions into age and sex groups, dance classes, the music equipment, and the climbing wall.”