Crowds turn up for vote on Halesworth Campus plan

Hopes are high that Halesworth can look forward to a future with a major new complex in the town after more than 800 people attended a key vote on the proposal.

Crowds of people went to Halesworth Middle School yesterday as they were given their chance to have a say on what has been labelled a 'once in a lifetime' opportunity for the town.

The school, off Harrisons Lane, is due to be closed in the summer, following a Suffolk-wide reorganisation of education, and the Halesworth Campus group is proposing to take over the site and transform it into a major complex for the town.

Suffolk County Council has even offered the middle school site for free, with the hope of it being turned into a campus with excellent sporting, educational and employment facilities.

However, to do so, the group needs the current adjacent Dairy Hill Playing Field to be sold for a housing development and the Halesworth Playing Fields Association's 1952 constitution states a vote of Halesworth residents aged over 18 had to take place.

Yesterday morning there were queues forming when the voting opened at 11am with people eager to have their say.

Tony Goldson, county councillor for Halesworth and chair of the Halesworth Campus group, said that by 5pm about 700 people had been to vote and they were 'absolutely over the moon' with the turnout.

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He said: 'This is very ambitious but if you look at Halesworth itself and what the town needs to support it for the next 25 years, it must have good sport facilities and must have good health facilities.'

As well as voting the residents also had the chance to watch a video on the proposals and talk to people on 23 different stalls, which featured a range of groups from the town supporting the proposal.

There was also a letter on the wall denying claims that the proposal had connections with a bid for the supermarket giant Tesco to move into the town.

Late afternoon Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey visited the school to speak with organisers and voters about the project.

She said: 'It is marvellous to see so many people coming. It is an exciting project for the future of Halesworth but will only work if it gets backing, and fingers crossed that it will.'

Voting closed at 8pm and Suffolk ACRE, the independent group chosen to count the vote, is expecting to reveal the vote to those involved tomorrow.

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