Residents demand former Bristol youth club reopens in wake of fatal stabbings

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Knowle West residents say the building could be used to tackle knife crime in the area

Members of a south Bristol community have demanded a former youth club reopens following the death of two teenage boys in the area.           

Knowle West residents are calling for the former Eagle House Youth Centre to be brought back into use after Mason Rist, 15, and Max Dixon, 16, were murdered nearby.      

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The building on Newquay Road, near Ilminster Avenue where the boys were fatally stabbed on Saturday night (January 27), is now operated as a church under Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFM).        

But residents believe the site should instead be used as a youth club, to tackle concerns about knife crime and anti-social behaviour.  

Eight people have now been arrested as part of the investigation into the deaths, with 44-year-old Anthony Snook from Hartcliffe charged with murder and due to appear in Bristol Crown Court tomorrow (February 2).       

“We want money pumped back into the area and we want the youth club back open so families can get support and youths have somewhere to go,” said community activist Carol Casey, who heads up a multi-agency group tackling issues in Newquay Road.           

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“I’m really angry that over 18 months we’ve been fighting and the council keeps putting us on the back burner.”    

Members of the Knowle West community have called for a former youth club to reopen following the murders of Mason Rist and Max DixonMembers of the Knowle West community have called for a former youth club to reopen following the murders of Mason Rist and Max Dixon
Members of the Knowle West community have called for a former youth club to reopen following the murders of Mason Rist and Max Dixon | Avon & Somerset Police

Residents say there is a youth organisation ready to move into the building, with more than 250 people signing a petition for it to be given back to children and young people.  

“We’re not being listened to by the higher-ups at the council,” added Anita Pearce, who is vice-chair of Eagle House Social Club next to the old youth club and previously raised the issue at City Hall.                

“We need a place for the young in the area. We have a building next door where we want to educate children and give them some hope for the future.” 

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The council-owned building closed as a youth club in 2014. It was then leased to MFM, a Pentecostal church from Nigeria, under a community asset transfer agreement in 2016. 

The ten-year lease says MFM will use the building for "a wide range of community activities, many of them aimed at local residents and on an 'open' (non-religious) basis".     

But the building is only opened on Sunday mornings for prayer service, with residents expressing concern that it has not opened its doors to the community since the stabbing attack.      

MFM pastor Tunde Adeleke told BristolWorld today (February 1) he was not aware of the recent incident in the area.             

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He said he is happy for the church to be used for youth activities but says he has not received a proposal in writing - despite the council saying it has written to MFM. 

Adeleke said: “Part of the contract is to make sure we open the place for everybody who wants to use it and that’s what we’re doing.               

“We’ve never done any non-church activity. All what we’ve been doing is in compliance with the contract and church activity.   

“We’ve never done anything contrary to the agreement.”  

A member of the church is currently living in the building A member of the church is currently living in the building
A member of the church is currently living in the building | Anita Pearce

Residents have also expressed concern about a person currently living in the building, with washing hung around the site. 

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Adeleke confirmed that a member of the church has been living there for the past two weeks to “watch over” the premises.       

“That’s our member, if anybody wants to use the place, that’s somebody who can guide them and show them the facility,” he said. 

Knowle Councillor Gary Hopkins believes bringing back the youth club is the solution to anti-social behaviour.   

The Knowle Community Party leader said: “We’ve been working together to get the youth facility that was ripped away put back in the area and have been making a lot of progress. 

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“What we don’t want is that to be interrupted by the administration pretending that they’re dealing with local problems.”          

Filwood Councillor Chris Jackson added he has been "working my nuts off to get that back into the community, but it’s so complicated”.       

The Labour councillor said: “I can’t go into too much because there’s an investigation about the use of the hub.   

“I’ve met with residents and council officers, and I’d love it to go back into the community.”         

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A spokesperson from Bristol City Council said: “We remain in contact with the tenants [MFM] to ensure the terms of the lease are adhered to. 

“Our Community Development team have written to the tenants to offer support in opening the building for community use.”    

The council has previously said it will not offer MFM a new lease when it expires in May 2026.  

In the long-term, there are proposals to redevelop the wider Eagle House site for residential, youth and community use.   

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