Hampshire County Council comes under fire from campaigners over Bedhampton school sell-off

Cllr Ken Thornber
Cllr Ken Thornber
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CAMPAIGNERS have hit out at council leaders for selling off a Victorian school to developers.

Jenny Wride, the woman spearheading a bid to transform the 140-year-old former Bedhampton School into a community centre, has criticised leaders at Hampshire County Council after they decided to sell the Grade-II listed building.

It is understood the building is worth about £400,000 and it has now been sold.

As previously reported in The News, residents put forward plans to create the Bedhampton Activity and Heritage Centre, offering a youth club, adult education classes, a museum and services for the elderly.

They wanted to apply for lottery funding to make the dream a reality.

But the county council put the building on the market last year as it said the scheme was not financially viable.

Mrs Wride, who is also a local councillor, said: ‘I’m extremely disappointed.

‘It’s a short-sighted decision because the facilities would have supported young people in the area who are unemployed and with very little opportunities in the current economic climate.

‘It’s unbelievable. There’s been an enormous amount of goodwill from various people and it cheeses me off that we were not given the opportunity.’

The building was home to the Bedhampton Arts Centre until 2009 when it closed due to funding cuts.

Since then volunteer residents have been visiting the school each week to make sure it is properly maintained.

Cllr Ken Thornber, leader of Hampshire County Council, said there was more benefit to residents from selling the building as cash from the sale would be invested in improving community facilities in Havant.

He added: ‘An offer has been accepted and the legal work towards the sale is now progressing. As part of the normal property marketing process, any organisation can submit a bid, but none was received from any residents groups, voluntary or charitable organisations during that time.’