Council criticized over Rifle Hall
THE proposed closure of two key amenities in Halesworth - its middle school and the Rifle Hall - dominated discussion at the annual town meeting.One resident claimed the high school for the area should be sited at Halesworth and not Bungay, while another said the response to the Rifle Hall closure - planned by Waveney District Council - has been low and not enough from which to form a conclusion.
THE proposed closure of two key amenities in Halesworth - its middle school and the Rifle Hall - dominated discussion at the annual town meeting.
One resident claimed the high school for the area should be sited at Halesworth and not Bungay, while another said the response to the Rifle Hall closure - planned by Waveney District Council - has been low and not enough from which to form a conclusion.
Stephen Howe spoke about the change from three to two tier schooling in Suffolk which would see the closure of the town's middle school. He said councillors were very concerned about the proposal as they felt that it was wrong that children should be bussed to school from the age of 11 with some on a 20 mile round trip.
They felt it would be as though the heart had been taken out of the town and could discourage young families from moving to the area when there was no through education on offer, and could have an effect on employment in local industry.
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Councillor Annette Dunning claimed that the decision to keep the high school in Bungay, rather than in the Halesworth area where 50pc of the pupils came from, had been made by the Bungay school head and not by the consultation group.
On the Rifle Hall issue councillor Paul Widdowson said the outcome of Waveney's latest discussions was that a working group of six Waveney councillors has been set up. They would meet in June and look into what should be done. It would be able to co-opt people but have no powers, only being able to advise Waveney councillors.
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It was pointed out that the hall was due to close at the end of May, which seemed to give the new working group nothing to do. Alan Holzer said that Waveney had no power to close the Rifle Hall - only to withdraw funding.
A member of the public questioned the fact that two members of the new steering group had already told the district council that the people of Halesworth did not want the Rifle Hall. They had therefore already “nailed their colours to the mast” and could not be open and impartial, especially as there had been little public consultation on the future of the Rifle Hall.
He said there had only been 30 responses to a recent survey done by the town council - insufficient to form an opinion.
Anyone wanting to comment about the Rifle Hall can write to Halesworth Town Council, Waveney Local Office, London Road,
Mr Holzer congratulated town council chairman Janet Wright on her two years in office in what he considered had been one of the most difficult times that he could remember. Mrs Wright presented Mary Copperthwaite, the Town Clerk, with a large flower arrangement.