AN MP has called for council-owned buildings to be opened up in evenings to provide youth services.

North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson said where there is an already paid for building, like community centres and libraries the community could benefit from the facilities being made available when not being used for its core business.

One such building which could remain open in the town is The Platform Centre, in the town centre.

The council-owned youth centre was opened earlier this year and plays host to dozens of community events each month.

Speaking in a Commons debate on youth provisionMr Tomlinson told MPs the move would help engage young people and could stop any potential anti-social behaviour.

He said: “During my 10 years as a councillor before becoming the MP for North Swindon, this was one of the most important issues that came up in the residents’ surveys and in the public meetings that I held.

“Parents generally accepted that their children were well catered for during school hours, but there were often concerns about after-school hours and the weekends.

“I have very many happy memories of going to youth clubs in the 1980s, and I know that youth provision is essential.

“It channels energies, and provides support and opportunities to develop.”

Mr Tomlinson said he understood the financial pressures everyone was under but he said more could be done without huge additional costs.

For example putting shelves in libraries on wheels would allow them to be pushed aside in the evenings for the venue to be used for another purpose.

He said: “It is a great crime that we have many facilities that are open for only 10 hours for their primary function, with the community being locked out for the remainder of the week.

“More should be done also with schools. Our leisure facilities – sports facilities predominantly –should do a lot more with the youth service.

“The Twilight Football schemes target children from challenging circumstances and promote positive engagement, and that makes a big difference. Also, where there is funding to build new facilities, those facilities should be accessible.

“I have seen many facilities that in hindsight were built in the wrong place, and I am delighted that the new £1.2m youth facility in my constituency was built in the town centre, which is easily the most accessible place.”

Children’s Minister Tim Loughton agreed with Mr Tomlinson that existing facilities should be used in a smarter way He told MPs: “We want to use children's centres more out of hours and at weekends for youth activities.

“We should make more use of schools and sports facilities that are lying idle for much of the time.”