A MUCH-LOVED youth drop-in centre in Calne, which has seen two generations use it as safe place to meet friends, is to close its doors after 18 years.

Calne Youth Trust has operated as a place for young people aged 11-16 to hang out from its premises in Wood Street since 2000. It will be closing on June 30 as rent for the privately-owned building has sky-rocketed and Calne Town Council, which pays the bill to support Calne Youth Trust, cannot afford the extra £3,700 a year.

Mercy Baggs, 86, who has run the trust for 18 years, said: “I am sorry we are closing. Our lease has ended and rent has been put up by £3,700, from £6,000 a year to £9,700.

“We can’t ask anyone to pay that amount of money for what we get.

“It is a great shame but it is one of those things.

“The youngsters have been coming since 2000.

“Everyone who has been has their name on the wall and it is a reminder of everyone who came here.”

She added how lovely it was that people who used the trust when they were younger would bring in their own children to enjoy the facilities and the space on offer.

Mrs Baggs added: “We watched them grow up and they are bringing in their own kids now.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed it.”

The trust’s HQ was broken into in March, when an Xbox and Wii games console were stolen.

It was recently redecorated after the break-in as there was blood left on the walls and the carpet had been ruined.

Town mayor Cllr Glenis Ansell, the Trust’s treasurer, has promised there will still be plenty for the young people of the town to do.

She said: “It isn’t viable for us to continue. It was a town council incentive set up 18 years ago when there was a lot of anti-social behaviour.

“It provided something for the young people to do and it is always regularly visited by people.

“The town council set up a youth working group so we could look at options and try and find an alternative premises but we didn’t find anything suitable.

“It is sad but we hope to find something to put in its place.

“There is enough for young people to do, it is just linking them up to what is available.

“It is wonderful to know how much support we have had from the community.”