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Public meeting tonight about redundant school sites

Wednesday, 24th March 2010.

A public meeting tonight (Wednesday) will give Haverhill people their first opportunity to put forward ideas for the re-use of school sites made redundant under the upcoming change from three-tier to two-tier education.

Haverhill town mayor Cllr Elaine McManus has called a public meeting at Haverhill Arts Centre at 7pm tonight through which groups and individuals can her more about the options and come up with ideas.

Of the five school sites which will be closed, only two and a part of a third will actually be available.

Clements Primary, for which a new school is being built on the edge of the estate, will become oipen space managed by St Edmundsbury Council.

Parkway Middle will become part of nearby Castle Manor Business and Enterprise College.

Chalkstone Middle will mostly be redeveloped as a state-of-the-art care home to replace Place Court.

That leaves Castle Hill Middle, and Westfield Primary, for which a new school is being built in Chalkstone Way, as well as a part of the Chalkstone site which may be up for grabs.

However, Maggie Peck of Suffolk County Council's property department, told a meeting of Haverhill Town Council last night the process was still going on whereby the county council seeks other uses it may have for sites.

Only after it is confirmed there are none would sites be available for community use, and then only for projects which would deliver the required financial return for the county council.

These capital receipts would be used for 'educational purposes' members were told.

Cllr Maureen Byrne said this was an opportunity to put pressure on about special needs provision in the town.

"We put a lot of value on this issue because of the number of children going out of town for special needs education, even as far as Stowmarket," she said.

Town clerk Gordon Mussett took issue with the county council's view that virtually all community uses could be absorbed into the remaining schools.

He highlighted two badminton clubs which might have to close after being forced out by the new hiring policy of one of the town's schools, and claimed there was a 'cartel' operating aamong town schools which pushed potential hirers towards the two upper schools only.

Suffolk County Council this week sent a letter to parents outlining the options.

It says: "Any suggestions for future use must: have a long-term financial plan; meet a recognised but unmet community need; have considered if the community use could be accommodated at one of the remaining schools in the area."

The county council is running a consultation process which includes an open evening at Chalkstone Middle on March 30 from 3pm-7pm.

There will be information displays at the library and the Leisure Centre from March 26 to April 12, and there is information on the website at www.suffolk.gov.uk/sor

All views must be received by June 11.

Haverhill Online News

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Haverhill, UKPosted by HANDBAG at 3:16PM on 25th March, 2010. (212.169.xxx.xxx)

Suffolk County Council are getting a bit above themselves here, aren't they? The school sites were built with taxpayers' money, so it isn't unreasonable to think that local taxpayers could be allowed to use at least one of them when they are no longer needed as schools, although that's still a matter of opinion anyway.


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