Yes, you, the people of Saltburn – all those of you who attended public meetings, completed expressions of interest, contacted the council and especially those stalwarts who, the Sunday before Decision–Day on the 14th February, came into the Community Hall and wrote letters of support to be taken to councillors before the final meeting – you have all helped in no small measure to secure the future of the former Junior School in Marske Mill Lane. It will now become a community asset, to be run by and on behalf of the community, for the widest possible range of community activities and interests.
And what an endeavour it has been – from the first meetings convened by Philip Thomson, gathering public support – to the creation of a steering group to prepare the business plan and the Community Asset Transfer application itself. At all stages of the preparation, consultation with local artists, musicians (and not forgetting skateboard enthusiasts!) was a priority for the steering group. We needed to discover just exactly what the residents of Saltburn wanted from this facility, and how these benefits could be shared with others in our locality. Based on these initial ideas, a business plan was drawn up by Peter Neal and Bernard Storey, aided by Janice Crombie of SCAA. The support of the Parish Council was invaluable, and we were delighted that Tom Blenkinsop, M.P., found time out of his busy schedule, to attend the meeting where the bid was presented to the residents of Saltburn, and at which they were given the opportunity to quiz the steering group and to offer further suggestions.
Once the bid was submitted, deadlines for its consideration came and went and were re-arranged, but the final outcome has meant that the former Junior School remains a community building. Many residents had expressed their fond memories of it as a place of education and also as an iconic ‘landmark’ on the road into the town. We now have the responsibility to look after it, not only as a listed building, but also to ensure that heritage does not merely mean preserving the past , but sustaining and developing the creativity of our community. To this end, the really hard work begins now: many people expressed an initial interest in the project, and ultimately in the use of its facilities, so we will be contacting those people with the aim of forming focus groups to discuss ideas, and project teams to effect the management of dedicated areas. There will be funding applications to make and money to be raised, in a variety of different ways, and the more people and groups who become involved at this stage, the quicker we will attain our aims and be able to welcome the first users of our newest community acquisition!
If you would like to be involved in any capacity, please leave name, contact details and your area of interest at the Office in Saltburn Community Centre.
And let’s congratulate ourselves on being a shining example of community in action – the Big Society?