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Call for action on old Stourbridge school site
Updated 9:50pm Thursday 24th April 2014 in News
Buy this photo The old Longlands School site, from Brook Street. Buy photo: 171413M
RESIDENTS living near a mothballed old school and college site in Stourbridge’s Old Quarter are calling for action in the wake of latest vandal attacks.
A blaze at the old Longlands School and Stourbridge College art campus, off Brook Street, has prompted people living nearby and former students to call for decisions to be made over the future of the site which has lain derelict since 2011.
Long-time neighbour John Milner, of Brook Street, has started a Facebook group 'Get something done about the Longlands Site' to get people talking and sharing ideas for the site – most of which is owned by Birmingham Metropolitan College, which inherited the land when it merged with Stourbridge College; while the old playing fields and garden area at the back of the site are owned by Dudley Council.
Mr Milner said: “This problem has been ongoing for several years but nothing seems to be done.
"When we had initial talks they were going to board it up but it’s never been boarded up. It’s a wreck.
"They’ve ripped everything out and left rubbish all over the place.
"It’s the same with the playing field – but nobody’s got the political will to do anything about it."
He said numerous people in the area have expressed an interest in turning the over-grown school field into allotments and he added: "I'm sure we could get a group of volunteers to clear it if someone could get a bit of low cost machinery in - and let allotment holders take it over.
"And I think the school should be listed; there's not many of those old quadrant schools around now."
The school buildings are believed to be listed locally, according to former ward councillor Nic Barlow (Conservative) who said the latest vandalism attack had proved "very concerning for people who live in that area".
The blaze on April 11, which saw four fire crews called out , caused mostly smoke damage to a modern two-storey classroom block - leaving the original historic school buildings intact.
But Mr Barlow said: "We just need another arson incident and the place could be damaged to such a state that it’s going to have to be demolished. It's a worry - it puts surrounding properties at risk.
"It's time for the council, the college and others to get round the table to thrash this out once-and-for-all."
A Birmingham Metropolitan College spokesman said the college has been working with the council and Dudley planners to find a suitable buyer for the site which has long been tipped for residential development.
John Starmer, the college's executive director of estates, added: “We take our duty of care very seriously and are putting additional mobile security patrols into the schedule in an effort to combat the problems we’ve experienced. We have also contacted local police to enlist further support whilst we endeavour to find a buyer for the site.”
Mohammed Farooq, Dudley Council's assistant director for law and governance, said: "The council has been in contact with the college to explore ways to work together, however, we have no current plans to sell off the playing fields on the site. Any issues of crime or anti-social behaviour should be reported to police."
Ward councillor Chris Hale (Labour) said he has been working with ward colleagues since elected to try and bring the playing fields back into use for the community but he added: "I'd like to pursue it and get something moving but there isn't much that can be done this side of the election."
To have your say on the future of the Longlands site check out the Facebook group 'Get something done about the Longlands Site' https://www.facebook.com/groups/277726439062244/ or leave a comment below.
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