September 18 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, June 21, 2014
There is still hope a school which will close next year could be transformed into a museum.
The idea was first put forward for Needham Market Middle School by the town council last year.
But now the town’s county councillor, Julia Truelove, has given an update on the situation.
“It’s clear that if the community gets together to pursue a particular idea such as creating a museum then it would certainly be looked at favourably and could be part of the space at the middle school,” she said.
“The decision on the school for it to be leased or sold will be made by the Secretary of State 9for Education Michael Gove) who will take into account any free school interest there is in the site. I understand that there’s been no interest in that.”
She read out a Suffolk County Council letter to town councillors and residents at a meeting on Wednesday which addressed the future of the school.
She added: “The council would consider a community interest if there was a substantial and robust business case supporting such a proposal which would have to be initiated locally.”
In her speech she said the middle school’s playing field would be given to the nearby primary school. The process to sell or lease the school will start in August giving around 12 months for the community to put together a bid, she said. Initially though the county council will look to keep the site for education use.
Kevin Hunter, the town clerk, has said that there was a need for a museum to represent the town’s history.
Mike Norris, a town and district councillor, said it was “very early days” for the museum proposal. “There are a lot of options and it’s very early days,” he said.
“It really depends on what the priority is on community benefit, it needs a proper assessment if and when it becomes available.
“There would be an educational aspect to the museum – there are a number of strands we could go down. It would be quite interesting to have it as a museum, it would have an education use I’m sure and would help to bring trade into the town.”
The school is one of four in the area which will close to make way for the two-tier education system.