Suffolk County Council accused of hypocrisy over proposal to sell Bacton Middle School site for housing

Bacton Community Middle School development plans. Left to right, David Barker MBE, chairman of Westh

Bacton Community Middle School development plans. Left to right, David Barker MBE, chairman of Westhorpe Parish Council, Phil Webb, chairman of Wyverstone Parish Council and chairman of Bacton Parish Council Richard Peaty. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Suffolk County Council has been accused of hypocrisy over the Olympic legacy – just days after it backed calls for people to get more active in the wake of the UK’s medal success.

Parish council chairmen from Bacton, Westhorpe and Wyverstone have hit out at proposals to sell of the site of the former Bacton Middle School for housing – saying it would be better to use the land for new sports facilities for the communities.

Their comments came on the day Suffolk cabinet member Tony Goldson said: “It’s been an absolutely fantastic Olympic Games and we have really got to capitalise on it.

“Suffolk County Council will be working with and supporting a large range of organisations on projects to get people more active for all the right reasons and I will be giving that my 100% support.

“The athletes have been so inspiring and so exciting, and we now need to encourage people to take up the activities we have on offer here.”

However those words sounded hollow to Westhorpe Parish Council chairman David Barker. He said local parish councils wanted to see the creation of an area for people to play tennis, netball, and a whole range of sports.

He said: “They have aspirations to be the greenest county. Let’s do something a little bit different or out of the ordinary that would say we believe in creating the greenest county.”

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Bacton Middle School is in the parish of Wyverstone, and its parish council chairman Phil Webb said villagers had clear ideas of what they wanted.

“What came out of discussions with the local community was a general desire to get some sort of sports facility on the site.

“There’s nowhere for Joe Public to go to play football, netball, that sort of thing We have our preferences but as long as there’s something that’s better than nothing.

“It’s about providing facilities for the future. Once the site is built all over it’s gone forever. We want to keep the dialogue open in a positive way but we need to make sure the county council, the education people and the consultants don’t lose sight of the need for something.”

Bacton Parish Council chairman Richard Peaty added: “Here is a site owned by the county council, which is ideal for sport, recreation and leisure, in the heart of an area that is crying out for facilities.

“Building on playing fields is against national and local planning policy.”

A spokesman for the county council said a final decision on the future of the school – which closed a year ago – was still to be made.

However the site was likely to be used for housing and to have some sporting and recreational use – although it was too early to have any detailed proposals.

He said: “We are working to develop this site with the involvement of local communities and councillors as part of the process.

“We are looking at developing facilities for sport and recreation as part of this project for the community to use.

“Development of this area enables investment in future education facilities for young people in Suffolk as well as providing housing and sports and recreation facilities for the local community around Bacton.”