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Southwark to auction off Belham Primary's Caretaker's House


alex_b

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Southwark have arranged to auction off the Caretaker's House in the corner of The Belham Primary School's playground next Wednesday. They've arranged this in secret, without consulting the school and without responding to the business case the school put forward last year to use the house for educational and community purposes.


There is also apparently no safeguarding plan in place for a building that sits inside the school grounds (50% of the windows are over the playground and the school's bike store is under the building). Nor any consideration for the disruption to the small playground that the inevitable building works will bring.


Please write to your local councillors to put a stop to this. If they'll do this to The Belham they'll sell off other school outbuildings and outdoor space too.

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I feel like this is classic council behaviour at the moment. Underfunded and trying to find some easy money without properly thinking things through or consulting. My sons both go to the Belham. It?s a great school and a wonderful community but the business case they submitted over 12 months ago has been totally ignored.
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They?ve had no communication from Southwark

It's so frustrating they didn't bother responding at all to the business case and it's not like this a distant field - the building overhangs the already tiny playground!



Find your councillors by postcode here: https://bit.ly/findmycouncillors


Rye Lane ward councillors are:


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(also Deputy Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools)


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Council leader:

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rupert james Wrote:

-------------------------------------------------------

> Out of interest what purposes does the building

> serve?

>

> If it remains empty unused and costs to remain

> sound why should it not be sold?


The school put forward a business case for educational and community use (particularly for small group music and art space which the current school building doesn?t have). The school had routes to funding this but couldn?t start until the council had agreed to lease the building to the school. Instead the council ignored the business case, left the building empty for over a year and then decided to auction it off in a secret decision during a pandemic.


I agree if there was no use for the building selling it would make sense, but this is a building that was built as part of the school, is incorporated into the playground and has a viable business case for being returned to being part of the school.

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Thank you so much for raising this. I am completely appalled at Southwark going ahead and not even acknowledging the school's entirely reasonable proposal. This is a very serious issue, especially when it involves putting school children at risk from a privacy and safeguarding aspect, let alone the inevitable disruption the renovation works will cause. I will be sending a very firm email voicing my concerns to the Councillors imminently!
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Here?s the link to the auction site, I think


https://auctions.savills.co.uk/index.php?option=com_bidding&view=commission&layout=details&id=1353


I don?t know - but guess - that this is part of the general strategy to dispose of high value empty homes to fund affordable housing (last update on the overall policy here)...


http://moderngov.southwark.gov.uk/documents/s92409/Report%20Review%20of%20Void%20Disposal%20Strategy.pdf


There?s quite a big funding gap to overcome to meet housing objectives, it seems.

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So, the council needs to do better in cleaning streets, providing shelter, etc. etc. yet it can't sell off stuff to do that? I agree it would be preferable for the property to be used in school, but right now, that's a luxury. In the hierarchy of those with needs, people without shelter or in unsuitable accommodation trump the offspring of already well-housed parents who want their kids to be able to do some in-school finger painting or recorder practice.
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When the Belham was rebuilt as a school why did the Cllrs not factor in repairing and upgrading this building when the original works were first mooted and a budget worked on.


It does seem strange that one of the Cllrs was responsible for children Services and this school and is now Cabinet member for this post in Southwark could not have seen this along with the other Cllrs.


If this house was an integral building within the school footprint/caretakers house you would have thought this would have been on their agenda for repair and use.


Nigellos's post does raise a sensible thought.

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Nigello Wrote:

-------------------------------------------------------

> So, the council needs to do better in cleaning

> streets, providing shelter, etc. etc. yet it can't

> sell off stuff to do that? I agree it would be

> preferable for the property to be used in school,

> but right now, that's a luxury. In the hierarchy

> of those with needs, people without shelter or in

> unsuitable accommodation trump the offspring of

> already well-housed parents who want their kids to

> be able to do some in-school finger painting or

> recorder practice.


The school (with support from the parents) submitted a proposal to the council over a year ago. The expectation was to raise external funding to convert the building to educational and community use (not just finger painting and recorder practice). Unfortunately the Council never responded to that proposal. By arranging disposal in secret during a pandemic, it has given the school no opportunity to raise the funds necessary.


rupert james Wrote:

-------------------------------------------------------

> When the Belham was rebuilt as a school why did the Cllrs not

> factor in repairing and upgrading this building when the original

> works were first mooted and a budget worked on.


At the time the old caretaker was still living in the house and had security of tenure. The expectation was that when it became vacant the school would be able to make use of it. The building became vacant last year and the school imediately made a proposal to the council which was ignored. Twelve months later the council arranges a last minute auction to prevent the school responding.

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Was was the Cabinet Member for Children's and school Services and also local Cllr not aware of this last minute auction, if they were why did it take a thread on this forum to bring it to residents and parents attention.


Surely as Cabinet Member, along with other Cllrs, the member would have been aware and have had this passed to them for comment. I cannot believe Officer Fred Bloggs suddenly decided after a cup of coffee one morning to put this suddenly up for auction.


Perhaps instead of "the expectation was" something should have been documented in legal form to all so they were aware of how things stood re the scholl and caretakers house.


As it stands it is a empty leasehold property the council can sell for cash or bring back into use for a homeless or needy person on the housing waiting list.

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richard tudor Wrote:

-------------------------------------------------------

> Was was the Cabinet Member for Children's and

> school Services and also local Cllr not aware of

> this last minute auction, if they were why did it

> take a thread on this forum to bring it to

> residents and parents attention.


I don't know. I've written to all three ward councillors (including said Cabinet member) but as is typical they haven't responded.


> Perhaps instead of "the expectation was" something

> should have been documented in legal form to all

> so they were aware of how things stood re the

> school and caretakers house.


I completely agree, unfortunately we are where we are. It certainly doesn't excuse the council starting to sell it without any consultation or communication with the school or community.


> As it stands it is a empty leasehold property the

> council can sell for cash or bring back into use

> for a homeless or needy person on the housing

> waiting list.


I'd have more sympathy for this view if a) they hadn't left it empty and decaying for 18-months while ignoring a proposal from the school to bring it back to use and b) it wasn't inside the walls of a Primary School, on top of a small playground.

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It would be helpful to whether the school?s proposal covered all the refurb costs plus a market rental (and involved external funding ie not from the Council? I imagine this would be a pretty hefty figure (I?d be surprised if a school could raise enough funding to come anywhere near the economic benefit of sale at the market value?). If the school can raise that sort of money I?m impressed!


I do agree that more transparency on this (and everything) is highly desirable.

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In response to those suggesting this is a bunch of ?well housed? parents who want some space for their offspring to play recorder, that rather misses the point. Of course it is important for the Council to raise funds to for eg. Provide affordable housing or shelter for the homeless but take a look at the listing...


https://auctions.savills.co.uk/index.php?option=com_bidding&view=commission&layout=details&id=1353


Given no consultation, or notice or suggestion that this might be turned into housing for key workers or social housing, it rather looks like it is aimed at developers who will then build private ownership flats, likely knocking down the existing building. That will not assist the needy the poster was concerned with. And it will mean huge disruption for children who have already faced a tricky year and who attend a lovely school but one with a postage stamp playground. Not to mention the fact that most of the windows of the property look directly into the playground and the property actually forms part of the playground.


My children are at that school. I am lucky that we are properly housed and get to attend a school where the teachers go all out. Doesn?t mean that this wouldn?t be disastrous for these children and children from other schools and the wider community who might otherwise really benefit.


Rant over

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DKH... Mary Seacole Court. Precedent.


The council sold the air space above the old janitors house in the grounds of DKH primary. Social Housing!!! that was a good deal. (As I understand funds from the sale were used to redevelope some other local primaries including Rye Oak.).


I can tell you Bellenden Old School was taken out of educations portfolio when Bellenden area was granted European Social Fund in the nineties to prevent it being sold off and becoming a 'gated redevelopment' i.e posh flats in the nineties when education was managed by a civil engineering company - Atkins (I kid you not) who appeared to asset strip. Thankfully we (the socialists) kept hold of Bellenden Old School and Thomas Calton Centre.


Anyone from the council care to add to this history?


K.

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This does have the appearance of Southwark Council sneaking this out and bouncing the community during a pandemic.

I suspect very few Labour Councillors were aware this was coming. But it is surprising how none appear ot have publicly stated this is unacceptable.

It will be telling if they rise to this challenge or try and ignore it and ride out the storm.

If you're against selling this school short make lots of noise with ward and cabinet Labour Councillors - I would say the same if they were from my lot Lib Dems.

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