A deeply controversial decision to relocate a hugely respected youth club leader has been put on hold after nearly 500 people signed a petition to keep her in Banstead.

Pat Lewis has worked at Banstead Youth Club in the Horseshoe, Banstead for almost four decades and was recently made an MBE for services to young people.

But cash-strapped Surrey County Council planned to move her to Epsom because Banstead's youngsters do not fit its criteria as they are not as badly behaved as young people in other areas.

Last week: Outcry as leader forced out of youth club because children behave too well

But on Monday a council spokesman announced that the decision to move her had been "put on hold pending a local consultation and endorsement from the local committee".

Mother Caroline Bray, who belongs to the youth club’s steering committee, said: "We are delighted that it has been put on hold."

Your Local Guardian:

County Councillor Ken Gulati, who is fighting to keep Pat at the youth club, said: "I was told that that it was put on hold. I’m pleased to hear it’s going to be looked at again because that’s what we want.

"The reason I think is that the reaction has been so strong they have felt it is necessary to look at it again."

Coun Gulati said he is organising a meeting with the head of youth services and a representative from the youth club to discuss the issue.

He said: "The overall situation is they are hoping to establish a new centre in Redhill. There are no more resources in the budget to do that so they have to switch resources around."

Your Local Guardian:

Coun Gulati said the area was deemed to be "less needy" according to criteria such as youth offending and the number of young people not in education, employment or training.

He said: "That’s partly the result of success of the youth club over the years. Banstead does need a youth club because there is nothing else in Banstead for children to go to."

He added: "Pat is the mainstay of Banstead Youth Club. If we lost Pat, it would be such a big blow it would be really difficult to recover from it."

Last week Ms Bray, who went to the club as a girl and whose son goes there now, said: "If you don’t behave you get everything. But if you do respect the community and are kind to your friends and peers you get nothing."

In response, a council spokesman said: "The council recognises that all young people have different needs, however fewer resources mean we must prioritise and target services in order to best meet the needs of Surrey young people."

Of the petition, he said: "The council welcomes the opportunity to listen to the concerns of residents in relation to changes to services."

Following messages of support left on Facebook, Ms Lewis posted her thanks online and said her initial reaction was "surely this is not all about me?"

She said: "All throughout my years at Banstead Youth Club I’ve been able to achieve so much because I've always had a strong and dedicated team of youth workers with me - many of whom were with us for years.

"More so today all the youth workers are past members. So as I look back on what has been said about people's time at Banstead, we must be proud of their achievements and that the youth club has contributed so much in their lives.

"This is as much for the past as well as the present members and all we would wish is that there is a youth provision in Banstead for the unforeseeable future."

Sign the petition at www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-pat-lewis-and-her-job-at-banstead-youth-club

What do you think about the decision being put on hold? Please leave a comment below or email alice.foster@london.newsquest.co.uk