New academy ‘may drive us from town’ says industrial firm
- Credit: James Bass
A Great Yarmouth company says it has been left 'in limbo' while plans for the town's new high school are worked out.
Bosses at ATI Tank Hire say the saga revolving around Trafalgar College, in Thamesfield Way, has already dragged on for more than a year making it impossible to plan and that the company was being 'driven out' of the town.
Relocating even a few miles could cost the established firm £70,000, they claim, with landlords charging high rents and the council failing to help.
Inspiration Trust, the academy chain behind the new 11-18 academy, announced the seven acre Perenco site which includes ATI's premises as its chosen location earlier this year.
However ATI has been operating under a 'tenancy at will' and 'a high degree of uncertainty' since March 2015 when its lease expired.
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Director Stuart Bidgood, said alternative sites that were available were 'unrealistically priced' given the difficult economic circumstances facing the town, and that looking further afield could put local jobs at risk.
He was also concerned about contamination at the site.
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The business has been going for over 30 years and employs 15 staff, most of whom have been with the firm for many years, and often hires additional temporary staff during busy periods.
Company secretary James Bool said that re-locating even a short distance would cost £70k adding that the company hoped the school would not need to bring their 1.6 acre site within its footprint.
'We are in limbo,' he said. 'Everybody is talking about the school but nobody is talking about our plight and the effect it will have on our company.'
Charles Lumsden, ATI's managing director also criticised the council for not making more affordable premises available.
A spokesman for the Inspiration Trust said it did not want to damage ATI's operations but that no decision had yet been made.
For now the trust was focusing on the existing buildings and would be operating under a temporary permission for the first year while the full scheme for the new-build was developed.
So far some 90 students had signed up to sit in newly re-modelled classrooms in September with a transfer day taking place on Tuesday during half term at Cobholm Primary School.
All the teachers have now been appointed.
Preparatory work is on-going as the school builds to its theoretical capacity of 150 students in each year group.
Inspiration Trust spokesman James Goffin said an intake of 90 in a new school's first year showed that people 'appreciated the vision.'
With a predicted shortfall of places in Great Yarmouth in the next few years he said he was confident it could meet the needs of the growing population.
He pointed to Jane Austen College in Norwich which had also started small but now, in its third year, was the most over-subscribed school in Norfolk with 80 people applying for places they did not have.
Mr Goffin added that the trust was removed from negotiations over the land which were being handled by the Education Funding Agency.