Keeping out the yobs

SECURITY guards and protective fencing are set to safeguard a village school from arson and vandalism, amid fears it will be targeted as soon as it closes this summer.

And councillors have welcomed the measures to prevent James Calvert Spence College (JCSC) – Hadston Road, formerly Druridge Bay Middle School, from being hit by yobs before it is demolished.

It follows the decision made by Northumberland County Council’s Executive to formally close the school and merge its pupils with JCSC – South Avenue, formerly Amble Middle School, from September.

In a breakdown of the proposed demolition, Martin Hay, integrated facilities services manager at the county council, said: “At the end of July 29, the school will close and be handed over to the demolition contractor to secure the site and the building.

“We have been advised by the Public Safety Unit, from intelligence gained by the local police, that the school will be a target for vandal and arson attack as soon as it closes.

“We are proposing to employ security guarding prior to and while the demolition is being undertaken. The school building will be protected by a temporary security fence.”

Notices have been issued to the water and electricity utility companies for disconnection of their services and the required 12-week notice period expires in mid-August.

From closure of the school to service disconnection, the contractor will undertake the required asbestos removal works and preparatory works for demolition and it has been proposed that demolition will commence as soon as services are disconnected.

Coun Scott Dickinson, chairman of East Chevington Parish Council, said he and the council welcomed the approach to protect the school from attracting any unwanted attention.

“We understand the fears raised by agencies that the venue could become an attraction for unwanted behaviour that could lead to accidents, vandalism or injuries and welcome the county council’s decision to fence off and protect the site while it is demolished,” he said.

“We don’t want to see any repeat of the Northumberland Gazette’s reports of derelict buildings on the Braid in Amble or other areas that have negatively affected the community. I feel they are making the right decision to deal with the demolition in this way,” he added.

Coun Glen Sanderson, ward member for Chevington with Longhorsley, backed moves to both protect the school from vandalism and demolish the site, which he said would cost the county council more than £250,000.

“We didn’t want to end up with a vile-looking monstrosity and I am pleased to see that the county council has gone along with the request (to demolish the building) at a time of financial stringency.

“That is one thing I can say that I am pleased about in what has been a very sad story altogether. The demolition should turn the page, start a new chapter, and let us move on.”