Calls for shut down Lancaster school to return to community use

Councillors hold a vigil outside the now closed Skerton High School
Councillors hold a vigil outside the now closed Skerton High School

Urgent demands are being made to return Lancaster’s redundant Skerton High School to community use.

Exactly five years since the school closed, councillors and residents are campaigning for the site in Owen Road to be used again for education or health purposes.

Pupils and supporters with Robyn Holtam from the Parents Action Group, protesting against the proposed closure of Skerton High School.

Pupils and supporters with Robyn Holtam from the Parents Action Group, protesting against the proposed closure of Skerton High School.

A vigil marking the anniversary was staged at the school gates on Saturday August 31, while a public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday September 17 at Fathers House in Owen Road at 7pm.

Lancaster City Council will be pressed to take action at its next full council meeting on Wednesday September 25.

City councillors in Skerton say the school was held in high regard by the local community for 80 years, but that since its closure in 2014, it has been left to fall into disrepair.

Lancashire County Council said there are no current plans to re-open the site, which they said is secured and monitored regularly.

Some of the Year 10 pupils at Skerton High School who will be mid-GCSE's when the school closes

Some of the Year 10 pupils at Skerton High School who will be mid-GCSE's when the school closes

Skerton councillors Abbott Bryning, Robert Redfern, Sandra Thornberry, Phil Black, Mandy King and Jean Parr will urge the full council meeting to call on Lancashire County Council to bring the site back into regular use as soon as possible.

“We also want to hear the views of local residents,” they said in a joint statement.

“It could be a centre for children with education, health and care plans, a campus for one of the universities, a technical college or a community centre with woodland or town green.”

They believe the site has huge potential to be used again mainly for education but also possibly as a community hub to promote health and well-being, sports and the environment, providing a local economic boost for residents in north Lancaster.

Skerton Community High School. Stock Pic.

Skerton Community High School. Stock Pic.

They want the city to actively seek out and support potential partners and occupiers.

They said that renovations or developments should comply with the the city’s ambitions, particularly relating to local spending, employment standards and the climate emergency.

County councillors at the vigil included Coun Erica Lewis, leader of Lancaster City Council, and Coun Lizzi Collinge, prospective Parliamentary Labour candidate for Morecambe and Lunesdale.

Coun Collinge said: “The saddest thing for me is seeing the playing fields not being used, despite the Chadwick Centre on the site and an obvious user for the outside space.

“It feels like a waste of money for the County Council to maintain the site without at least allowing community use of the playing fields.”

County Coun Phillippa Williamson, cabinet member for children, young people and schools, said: “Skerton High School was closed due to low numbers of students, so we have no current plans to re-open this site when there are currently sufficient places in the local area.

“This site is being kept for future educational use and we are looking at opportunities to use it for council services, however we have no current plans for the site at this time.”

“We’re happy to meet with local councillors when we have a proposal.”