Bid to buy restaurant so Norfolk school can expand sparks row

St George's Primary School in Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass

St George's Primary School in Great Yarmouth. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2016

A row has broken between Labour councillors over a bid to create extra space at a Norfolk school by using taxpayer's money to buy a next-door restaurant for it to expand into.

St George's Primary and Nursery School in Great Yarmouth is oversubscribed and Norfolk County Council bosses have been considering how to create extra space at the St Peter's Road site.

Their solution was to suggest the authority buys the next door former restaurant, previously the Sawadee Thai, so the school could expand.

A report by council officers stated: 'Opportunities to expand the existing school site are minimal due to its land locked location. Realistically this building provides the only option potentially available to expand the school site.

'It is of sufficient size to make a difference to the facilities for the children. It is detached and being on the east side of the school provides the most opportunities in the longer term to add buildings to link in with the existing school layout.'

But, at a meeting yesterday, where councillors were asked to agree the council should buy the site, Labour's George Nobbs criticised the plan.

He said he had been asked about the deal when he was council leader and felt the price tag on the restaurant did not offer good value for money. His Labour colleague Colleen Walker, who represents Magdalen in Yarmouth, agreed.

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She said: 'I have a problem with the amount of money being proposed so far. I do not like being held to blackmail. I have sympathy, but I have a problem with the price.'

However, Labour councillor Mick Castle, who represents Yarmouth North and Central, argued for the deal to go ahead. He said the cost, which was not disclosed, would be paid from government money. He said: 'The most important thing is what's right for the kids in that school. If you turn it down that school will be disadvantaged.

'It's a good school and it is full to the gunnels. Even a small measure of extra space will improve it.'

The policy and resources committee agreed, with 10 councillors in favour, one against and four abstentions, to approve the purchase.

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