Tuesday, November 14, 2006

It's Time To Buy The Former Civil Service Sports Ground

Tomorrow Southampton City Council is voting on the approval of £4.11m of funds to implement the Learning Futures: Secondary Education proposals, that were revealed earlier this month.

One of the proposals is to conduct as feasibility study and develop a business case for the eventual relocation of the Regents Park Community College as a mixed school onto the St Mark's CE Junior School site on Shirley Road, with the former Civil Service Sports Ground to be used as playing fields.

The site would be developed as a Learning Campus together with St Mark's CE Junior School in partnership with the CE Diocese of Winchester and St Mark's CE Junior School through Building Schools for the Future. (A Government fund which will be available in 2009/10)

Furthermore, the Learning Futures proposals call for the relocation of Regents Park Community College to the St Mark's site, including early discussions with the trustees of St Mark's Junior School (the owners of the St Mark's site; the Director of Education for the Winchester CE Diocese and Bovis Homes (the current owner of the Civil Service Ground).

£30,000 has been allocated to conduct the feasibility study. However no additional funding has been put aside for the purchase of the former Civil Service Sports Ground. This would need to happen for the project to be successful.

In 2003 a sum of money was allocated to the Strategic Reserve to acquire the Civil Service Sports Ground from it's former owners the Civil Service Sports Association. However the funds were insufficient and no progress was made. Then earlier this year the land was sold to Bovis Homes.

In tomorrow's Council meeting Conservative Councillors will be calling for additional funds to be allocated from spare resources within the current capital programme to be added to the money already allocated in the Strategic Reserve for the potential future purchase of the land, for the purpose of providing playing fields for the St Marks and Regents Park Schools.

The Learning Futures consultation has revealed that there is considerable support in the community for having new schools on the St Mark's site. This won't work however unless the Council acquires the former Civil Service Sports Ground. If the Council can acquire the land from Bovis Homes then this will strengthen the Council's position when applying for funding for new schools in 2009.

Conservatives will be calling on Labour and Lib Dem Councillors to support us in tomorrow's Council meeting. If they do then we can save the last remaining green space in Freemantle for local people and help pave the way for new schools for our local community.

UPDATE 17/11/06 - I am delighted to report that the amendment carried all party support. We are now in an excellent position to purchase the site in the very near future.

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