Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Schools Vision Prompts Fears

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Schools Vision Prompts Fears

Article excerpt

Byline: Joanna Desira

Residents fear plans to build new schools could have devastating effects on the future of one of Middlesbrough's oldest conservation areas.

Community groups in Acklam have vowed to fight the plans under Building Schools for the Future.

They warn that the proposals will lead to the loss of educational and community resources - including the Hexagon Theatre - and a rise in congestion, anti-social behaviour and truancy.

Residents raised concerns at a meeting of Middlesbrough Council's Executive at Hall Garth School and Mayor Ray Mallon promised them an early meeting with council representatives.

Under Building Schools for the Future, Middlesbrough Council is amalgamating Hall Garth and King's Manor schools and building a new pounds 23m school next to the Avenue of Trees.

Acklam Grange School on Lodore Grove is getting a new school building on its site.

The council has also submitted plans to the Government to merge Newlands FCJ and St David's schools, and spend pounds 13m on refurbishment to form a new single Catholic secondary school also near the Avenue of Trees.

Middlesbrough Council had originally planned to build a new Catholic school at a separate site but has said due to Government deadlines this will not be possible.

Members of Acklam Community Council and environmental-group Acklam 2020 say there could be about 3,000 attending schools in Acklam.

Existing problems include dozens of children regularly playing truant in the woods, starting fires, fighting, an estimated 200 youngsters drinking alcohol on a Friday night, dropping litter and causing mayhem outside people's houses.

Peter Williams, chairman of Acklam Community Council, said: "The difficulty is that they come in the morning causing mayhem. An awful lot of them are roaming in the woods lighting fires and trampling flowers."

Marion Woods, chairman of Acklam 2020, said: "We pick up litter, plant bulbs and trees and the kids are acting against us destroying everything we do, they pull trees out and snap them out and start fires.

"A lot of the children are coming from the neighbourhood renewal area and these areas get a lot of money. …

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