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Sale of former Thetford school stalled to help campaigners come up with plans to take it over

The Elm Road Centre in Thetford. Pic: Archant.

The Elm Road Centre in Thetford. Pic: Archant.

Archant

A former school in Thetford has been given a reprieve from being sold just yet - to give the community the chance to come up with plans to take it on.

Roy Brame, Conservative county councillor for Thetford East. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.Roy Brame, Conservative county councillor for Thetford East. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

Norfolk County Council has been looking generate cash by selling off some of the properties it no longer requires, and the Elm Road centre was one identified to be sold at public auction.

The former infant school, which dates back to the 1960s had been used by children’s services in recent years. The council had been prepared to spend £800,000 on revamping it to make it a ‘hub’ for adult social care.

That would have helped save £250,000 in transport costs, because service users in the Thetford area would no longer have to go to Norwich for services.

But, at a meeting of the business and property committee last month, councillors agreed to sell it, despite the protestations of Terry Jermy, Labour councillor for Thetford West.

However, Thetford Town Council applied to register it as an asset of community value, to give local people the chance to try to take it on.

And when the county council’s business and property committee met on Tuesday, they agreed to hold off on selling the site, to give the community an opportunity to put forward their own proposals.

Roy Brame, Conservative councillor for Thetford East, said a postponement on sale until the end of the year would give an opportunity for the community to put forward business plans.

He said: “What this has done in Thetford has been brilliant. The community has really got behind it and have come up with all sorts of ideas.”

Committee chairman Barry Stone said: “I think that is a good result. It gives the community a bit more time to put something together.”
As it looks to plug a multi-million pound spending gap, Norfolk County Council is looking to save £10m by selling its assets.

Finance director Simon George said: “For us to bring forward that £10m, we will have to look at our list of assets and identify some chunkier ones to bring forward.”

But Labour’s Colleen Walker told a meeting of the council’s business and property committee: “I do worry about selling the family silver. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

Conservative chairman Barry Stone said officers would always look at other options to generate revenue before disposal.

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