Tag Archives: Northamptonshire County Council

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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Dangerous streetlight switch-off may signal end of paper-round

OUR eldest, who turned 14 this week, started a paper round at the beginning of the summer. A paper round he may have to take early retirement from thanks to the council street-light-switch-off.

As his pocket money comes in the form of a £10 a month phone top-up, he was always moaning about lack of cash.

The Thursday paper round pays pitifully little for around 150 papers, but at least it’s regular cash in his bank account, independence and responsibility.

We’ve had a few lively discussions about it, as he’s already bored with the routine of dragging his heavy trolley around the streets on a night he could be playing yet more rugby.

And his plan to get at least one brother to help in return for him taking on their chores is proving unreliable.

However, since Northampton’s street lights have been turned off, we’re wondering if it’ll be us who call a halt to his employment.

Last week, despite the glorious weather, he had to come home early without delivering his full round, as it just got too dark to see. He ended up doing the rest the following day, on his birthday.

In our street, a town centre location, they haven’t turned off, say, one light in two on each side of the road, but turned off the entire right side of the street. The light from the two remaining on the left is too distant to be of help.

I’ve listened to the arguments about street lights. I don’t object to some going off as long as it’s not affecting residents. Or even all of them in the early hours or moonlit nights!

But when the clocks haven’t even gone back yet and you can’t see where your car is in the street, or where someone’s front gate is, isn’t that just asking for trouble?

I’m even thinking about investing in headtorches for the school runs once winter arrives. It’s a ridiculous situation. Especially when empty council-run buildings stay lit-up at night like ruddy beacons.

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