‘Vital’ new school build delayed by a year at least

Delays in the procurement process mean that Alnwick’s new high school will open a year later than planned, at Easter 2016 at the earliest.

Following the announcment that the Duchess’s Community High School had been selected for the Government’s Priority School Building Programme last year, a target date for the start of construction was set for next year, with doors opening in September 2015.

But now, a report to today’s meeting of the county council’s family and children’s services committee reveals that this will not be the case.

Headteacher Maurice Hall said: “It is disappointing for the school that the procurement process has been delayed.

“As we all know, the need for new facilities is vital not only for the school itself, but for the wider Alnwick community.

“All work that was needed to be completed by the school and the county council in preparation for the procurement process has been completed.

“We are now in the hands of central government in light of the revised start date.”

Schools in the North East batch have been informed that the procurement process is going to be delayed due to problems with funding.

The report says: ‘The delay in procurement has a knock-on effect for Alnwick and Bedlington, as they will now not be opening the new schools until around Easter 2016 at the earliest; this increases the challenge of keeping all three schools operating in their present buildings until a new school is built’.

Alnwick’s county councillor Gordon Castle said: “It’s rather depressing news. If there’s one thing that’s urgently needed in Alnwick, it’s a new high school. At the meeting, I shall be asking questions and requiring the greatest possible urgency for the work which is holding it up.”