Council insists £25 million investment in Amble schools still planned

A council chief has insisted that more than £25 million remains in the budget for schools in the Amble area.

Thursday, 17th February 2022, 12:00 pm

Cllr Glen Sanderson, leader of Northumberland County Council, was responding to claims by Labour that schools in the Coquet Partnership had been robbed of much-needed investment.

Instead, he says it is up to the schools partnership and local community to decide how the money is spent.

He explained: “There is £25.456 million sitting in our capital programme which is earmarked for Amble.

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James Calvert Spence College in Amble.

"We put something like £20 million in the programme three years ago and have increased that over the last 18 months because we know it’s going to be an expensive project.

"What we can’t do – and won’t do – is spend that money until the best way forward has been agreed by the community and that means both the schools and the residents.

"Discussions between the Coquet Partnership have begun but are not yet completed.

"Once that is done and consultation has been carried out the money will be released and there will be provision for new education facilities.

"It may be that people say they want a new high school or a middle school or new junior schools.

"It’s pointless us dictating what sort of school options there are. We want them to tell us and when they do the money is there.”

Northumberland Labour had complained of the ‘paltry’ £1.2 million spent on to the Coquet Partnership under the Conservative administration.

In 2017 the then Labour administration had committed £9 million to a revamp of James Calvert Spence College where there were proposals to bring the middle and high schools together on the Acklington Road site.

Later in the year, a new Conservative administration promised a review of all schools instead.

Cllr Terry Clark, member for Amble, said: “Under the Labour-led council we were ready to invest in the bringing together of the middle and senior school to one modernised campus.

“Had we still been in power the new campus would have been built by now.

“However, when the Tories took over they reversed the decision and said they would carry out a review while agreeing that the school needed to be made fit for the future.

“By awarding a mere £1.2m investment to the Coquet Partnership the Tories have put back those plans once again causing teachers, staff, children and local people to once again feel ignored.

“We will be asking why this money has effectively been stolen from a project which everyone recognised was much needed. It’s simply not good enough.

“Amble’s community has been putting its faith behind this programme for over four years. Leaving funding for building a new school year after year significantly leaves short what is required within Amble and surrounding area.”

Sue Currie, chair of governors at James Calvert Spence College, added: “We are committed to ensuring that James Calvert Spence College receives the capital funding that it needs in order to provide education and community facilities that we can all be proud of.

"The governors and senior team are committed to working with the council, and our partner first schools, to ensure this investment comes to fruition in the near future and that it is transformational for all students and members of the community.”

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