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Security costs Sheppey school £266,000 in three years

The sign outside the former Danley Middle School, Danley Road, Halfway.
The sign outside the former Danley Middle School, Danley Road, Halfway.

More than £250,000 has been spent on a former Island school since it closed three years ago.

There are fresh calls to fast track the planned transfer of Halfway Houses primary to the old Danley Middle School after Kent County Council (KCC) revealed the cost of maintaining the Danley Road site.

Since its closure on August 31, 2009, when Sheppey’s education system changed from three tier to two, up to September 30, 2012, residential security has cost a total of £266,229.13.

Theresa Langworthy was a governor at Danley when the system changed and is a member of the still operational Danley School Association.

She said: “Had KCC actually pulled their finger out, they had most of it in place. They wasted three years all the money because they just didn’t get things moving. They just let it go to rack and ruin because they didn’t do anything.

“Everyone knew they were going to move Halfway over there but KCC didn’t make it official [until after Danley closed] because then the staff would have had to have been offered employment.”

She said demolishing Danley to build a smaller school was a “waste” because millions had been previously spent a science block and extensions to the site.
MP Gordon Henderson called the figure a “a huge waste of public money”.

He said: “That could have been spent making the modifications when the Danley school closed down.

“The only real modification that needed to be made to make it suitable to become a primary was changing the toilet block.

“I can imagine that would have cost less than the amount [spent on it so far].”
The school is one of 14 in the UK to benefit from funding from the Department of Education’s Priority School Build Programme but work is not likely to take place until 2014 for a 2016 opening date.

At Halfway Houses Primary, Southdown Road, some pupils are being taught in mobiles to accommodate for a lack space in classrooms.

The amount spent on Danley was revealed after a member of the public made a Freedom of Information request to KCC.

The response to the query read: “As you may appreciate, vacant properties are a target for vandalism and theft, often with valuable metals being stripped and building damage where the cost of remediation is significant; unprotected vacant property is often not insurable as a result.”

KCC cabinet member for education Cllr Mike Whiting said: “Obviously we have a responsibility to try to ensure that KCC property is kept safe and that we safeguard it for future use.

“Obviously these things come at a price but I have asked for a review of the security arrangements in light of proposals to have the school demolished and Halfway school built on the site.”

Cllr Whiting went on to say: “The department for education has said that they don’t plan on opening the school until 2016 and we are in discussions with them to see how that date might be brought forward.”

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