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Cornwall Council admits no £10 million revamp of Helston College for at least two years

By West Briton  |  Posted: July 22, 2013

  • Water pools on the roof of C-block of Helston Community College.

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CORNWALL Council chiefs have admitted they cannot find the £10 million needed to revamp Helston College.

The bombshell left staff and governors stunned. They had expected the rundown C-block to be replaced as soon as planning permission was approved.

College governor Ted Grundy said there had been countless problems with the ageing building, including panes of glass falling out and serious concerns about the safety of the ceiling beams.

"It's ridiculous. If we don't do something, there's going to be a disaster," he said. The building houses the maths and English departments but it might not be replaced for another two years at the earliest.

Recently, pupils have been forced to work in temperatures of more than 30C – because the windows are nailed shut to stop them falling out.

Head teacher Pat McGovern said: "I am deeply disappointed and frustrated, as we've raised expectations for staff and the community.

"The question people are now asking is, 'where did the director of education expect to get the money from'?

"As we break for the summer, once again we don't know what's happening. We've been waiting since 2003."

It was agreed last year to replace C-block and Cornwall Council has applied for permission to construct a new building.

That application has been held up after concerns were raised about building on the school's playing field.

But Dr McGovern said everyone expected that the money was in place. He said his 1,600 students have done exceptionally well despite the poor conditions.

"We are one of Cornwall's outstanding secondary schools and set very high standards.

"Trying to maintain these standards is really difficult. We feel like we are facing heavy artillery with water pistols – and they are being filled by water leaking from the roof."

He said it was time for Cornwall's councillors to demand the officers find the cash.

Cornwall Council spokesman Trisha Hewitt said the authority had already agreed the work was urgently needed.

"Despite the best efforts of both the council and the college, it has not so far been possible to identify the funding.

"The council is exploring all options to resolve this issue." She said the council's Cabinet will discuss the matter at its meeting on July 31 and will consider applying to the Government's £50 billion fund set up to support public sector infrastructure projects.

This however will not be available for another two years.

She added: "If agreed officers will be working with the school and the local MP to prepare the strongest possible bid for this funding."

Porthleven and Helston South councillor Andrew Wallis, the Cabinet member responsible for young people, said: "I know that governors, staff, students and parents will be extremely disappointed by this news and so am I.

"We all agree that the issues at C-block need to be addressed as quickly as possible and I would like to assure both the school and the local community that this remains a top priority for the council."

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