Tag Archives: council cuts

The end of the Cherry Orchard (Middle School)

YOU may not have noticed unless you live in the area, but in the past week the former Cherry Orchard Middle School has been bulldozed.

Since closing as a 400+ pupil middle almost eight years ago, and briefly becoming an annex for Weston Favell School, the site has fallen into terrible disrepair and become a haven for wildlife. After the council’s first Big School Sale fell through, they’ve spent goodness only knows how much on security, and the grounds became overgrown and the windows broken. The only visitors were vandals, a security guard, and members of the police dog unit who used it for training exercises.

Cherry Orchard Middle school demolition

I know this because I have an allotment just over the wall and was regularly ‘surprised’ (scared witless) by a loud voice shouting “DOWN! Get down on the ground, put your hands where I can see them!” (or words to that effect). I stopped hiding in the shed and calling the police after about the third time it happened.

In recent weeks things have started to happen very quickly, as the council sold the site for houses and the contractors moved in. The rear grounds were fenced off, and at the front; the Birchfield Road East side, the buildings were smashed up and foundation work for the houses that will take its place began. Now trees have been removed, and the whole site looks strangely empty. For now at least, because soon it will have 160-odd new homes on the narrow site running between Wellingborough Road and Birchfield Road East. We’re hoping the row of magnificent mature trees bordering the allotment won’t be touched.

I’m sure thousands of you will have spent your formative years at Cherry Orchard. It may have been the best years of your life – or not . . .

Anyone passing must have felt sadness to see a school that has stood on the site for decades simply disappear into rubble. It might not have had much history as a building – it wasn’t a red brick Victorian school with a pretty clock tower, more like a 1960s or 70s building block of a place – but it would have held plenty of memories for all the former staff and pupils, who, I believe, include politician Tony Clarke and BBC radio presenter Helen Blaby.

A similar fate awaits a further 15 abandoned schools, which were said to be worth over £100 million to county council coffers when they closed almost a decade ago. Meanwhile, isn’t the council making cuts of, oh, around £100 million?

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Library closures: why cuts shouldn’t be presented as ‘either/or’

AT a time of painful and apparently limitless cost-cutting, the loss of several public libraries might seem easy compared to closing nursing homes and respite care for the disabled.

But we shouldn’t be looking at these cuts as an ‘either/or’ situation, as the politicians would wish us to. We should be finding ways to preserve it all.

I was looking through some photos of the family over the years and was struck by the fact that the few I have of Bloke have a theme – he’s reading books to the kids.

We visit various town libraries once a month or so. It’s not that we don’t have the luxury of books at home, but with four children, they’ve got a little dog-eared over the years. We can’t afford monthly visits to bookshops, but going to the library means they can keep having their passion for stories – ( Doug and Bill prefer non-fiction) – updated whenever they want, for free.

I must confess to being sometimes tardy with my timekeeping. Despite being able to renew books online, I forgot about some which had become buried in the mess of the boys’ room. By the time they were found, I thought I’d be facing fines like those at university: £10 a DAY for late return of equipment, 60p per HOUR for in-demand loans. I think my fine at the library was about £2.50 for books that were weeks late.

Libraries are not just places for at-home-mums to go with their offspring, students to catch up, or pensioners to use the internet. They are storage units for our history. Journalists may rely far too much on Google, but the real research is to be done in the local history sections, where centuries of newspapers exist on microfiche, old photographs and street records are lovingly indexed, and the minutia of our ancestors are preserved. For now.

So, Save-Our-Libraries, find a way. Stick in a coffee shop. Hold celebrity signings if you must.

And fine me more. I have no excuse.

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