Critics bank on bats to help halt school revamp plans

KItchen unit at Rothbury First School with headteacher Dianne Butler, chairman of governors Robert Famelton and county councillor Steven Bridgett.

KItchen unit at Rothbury First School with headteacher Dianne Butler, chairman of governors Robert Famelton and county councillor Steven Bridgett.

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Bats in the roof could be the only thing to scupper plans to revamp a school kitchen and hall.

Critics of proposals to refurbish Rothbury First School’s kitchen and hall are hoping the scheme is blocked by the presence of protected bats in the roof.

Parish councillors are objecting to the county council’s planning application because they believe it should invest in a new building instead.

County council Steven Bridgett, who described the scheme as diabolical, said because it had funding, the county wanted a revamp, though the building from the late 1930s or early 1940s had never been intended to last so long.

“I certainly hope that the fact I know there is a roost of bats in the roof stops them from doing so.”

The school would have to find a way of protecting the children while the work was going on and food delivery vans would continue to cross the playground, whereas a new separate block would have solved those problems. But the only planning reason to stop it was the presence of bats.

Coun Joy Morton told last Wednesday’s meeting: “It’s a good opportunity to get a brand new purpose-built kitchen and to spend what they are spending on refurbishment is a waste of money.”

She thought the van hazard was another reason to build afresh.

Coun Bridgett said: “They take the narrow-minded view that, ‘We are funding it, we will pick what we want’.

“The consultation with the governors at the first school, in my opinion, has been appalling.

“Myself and the headteacher are in agreement – we don’t think it’s the best option.”

The building had to comply with the law on disabled access and he did not see how it would.

“I just find the way the county education department has handled it has been extremely poor,” he said.