School decision leaves parish councillors “totally speechless”
10:00 05 January 2013
Archant © 2011
Members of a parish council have been left “totally speechless” after their only community facility was closed to be used for storage.
Worlingham Parish Council has written to Suffolk County Council to express their “extreme disappointment” that the indoor community sports facilities at the former Worlingham Middle School, in Garden Lane, have not been open to the public since the school closed.
Worlingham Primary School is set to move into the building in September but councillors are upset that they were not consulted on the decision to use it for storage.
They want the items to be moved to other areas of the site to allow the sports hall to be opened again, but Suffolk County Council has said that it will remain closed during building works.
Wendy Summerfield, chairman of Worlingham parish council, said: “We are all totally speechless and so annoyed.
“In the Olympics year when everyone was trying to encourage sports they were closing down the sports hall for storage”
“They have closed the only facility we have got in the village.”
The school was closed in July as part of the county’s move to a two tier education system.
Mrs Summerfield said that if the county council had approached them, they would have tried to help them find another storage facility to keep the site open.
She said: “At the moment we don’t have a village hall and we don’t have a sports hall. We have the parish council using primary school chairs and tables.
“It is almost as though we are being sidelined and overlooked, that it is only Worlingham and they don’t need anything.”
Mrs Summerfield added that there has been anti-social behaviour on the site since it was closed, and felt it would have been less likely if it had continued to be used.
However, a spokesperson for Suffolk County Council said that the site needed to be closed for safety reasons.
She said: “There are high risks and associated costs relating to the safety and security of visitors during the period of refurbishment at the school.
“The sports hall itself will not be heated or connected to any electrical services, and therefore will be unsuitable for use during building works.
“The majority of groups using the facility have already found alternative sites.
“We will keep those affected in the loop with the programme of works and will re-open the school’s facilities as soon as it is safe and practical to do so.”
It is hoped that Worlingham Primary School’s existing site, in Rectory Lane, will be taken on as a community facility when the school moves in September.