Great Yarmouth school’s bid to use Beaconsfield playing fields scrapped

PUBLISHED: 09:43 13 February 2014 | UPDATED: 09:43 13 February 2014

Great Yarmouth High School. Picture: James Bass

Great Yarmouth High School. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2013

A controversial plan to let Great Yarmouth VA High School use a public playing field for PE lessons has been thrown out.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council (GYBC) has decided not to proceed further with the tentative idea, saying it is not a “viable option” and it would not be acceptable for the community as a whole.

Great Yarmouth High School currently has 900 students and capacity for less than 1,000 - but pupils numbers are set to climb to 1,400 within five years.

To cope with the increase, Norfolk County Council officers had floated the idea of building new classrooms on the school playing fields and using the public Beaconsfield fields for PE lessons.

Residents, however, were concerned about the possible loss of the Beaconsfield.

Today, GYBC revealed it would not be going ahead with the idea.

Council leader Councillor Trevor Wainwright said: “After listening to the views of the public, including those who use the recreation ground, the borough council has decided not to proceed further with this tentative idea.

“I said at the start that Beaconsfield is and will remain subject to an agreement between the borough council and Fields in Trust, a national charitable body that safeguards public access to the site. I also said the top priority for the borough council was maintaining public access to this popular facility for its existing uses, while also having in place adequate pupil safeguarding measures during school hours.

“We have concluded that usage by pupils would require at least part of the site to be closed off during some of the day. But those who have used the field, unrestricted, for decades tell us that such a change would not be a viable option.

“And it runs contrary to the spirit of the agreement with Fields in Trust, who might not accept the new arrangement. Providing sufficient pupil places is the statutory duty of Norfolk County Council. The borough council will assist wherever it can, but any solution must be viable and acceptable for the community as a whole.”

Last month Mick Castle, county cabinet member for education, said the shortage of secondary school places in Yarmouth is a hangover from the 1980s when birth rates slumped and all the town’s secondary schools apart from Great Yarmouth High School were closed.

“It’s a sore point since the 1980s,” he said.

“At the moment all our primary schools are looking at extra places to make them bigger, but those kids will need secondary places.

“That’s where the scale of the problem comes.”

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