Monday, 22 July 2013
Public meeting on future of Charles Burrell School site
My comments at tonights public meeting regarding the future of the Charles Burrell School site:
We have known for some time that the Charles Burrell site will be closing, personally I think it is crucial that the local community are involved in any future plans which is why I am so pleased that this public meeting is now going ahead after I suggested it some months ago.
I am delighted that so many people are here this evening for this meeting.
Those of us that live on this side of Thetford will know that there is a distinct lack of community facilities available. Whether it be facilities available for the whole community, or space for young people’s activities or a meeting point for older residents – we have long needed better facilities.
There is also a very real danger that with all of the growth happening to the North of Thetford, all of the new facilities, including the expanded high-school, potentially the skatepark, and new community centres, we cannot allow this side of Thetford to be left behind and forgotten.
This site is a recognised hub for the community, many groups already use the facilities, usage that could increase considerably now that education usage will not take place on site, freeing up availability.
Whether it be the Dolphins that use the pool, the cookery classes in the food tech block, or the Thetford Players using the main hall for one of their productions, the whole site has much greater potential.
There are also value for money considerations as the site has seen a considerable amount of public money invested in it over the last few years – the facilities really have improved here so much, particularly since I was a pupil here some years ago.
I am sure as well that the last thing that the County Council wants is an empty site that will be costing them money, and that is the last thing the local community would want either.
From my own thoughts, and through discussions with local residents; I would like to see the front section of the site kept, the area that includes the front reception and office block, the food technology unit, the canteen and kitchens, the main hall, the swimming pool and gym area above and the classroom block to the side of the pool that used to be the science block. This section could make a fantastic self-contained community area that could provide a location for a whole number of activities.
Cost will surely be a major factor, with all local Councils having limited funds available – but we have got to explore what can be done here, rather than not considering it at all. This site has too much potential to not even consider the options.