Support grows for new boys centre in historic St Bede’s Chambers

St Bedes Chambers, Albert Road Jarrow
St Bedes Chambers, Albert Road Jarrow

Plans to establish a new centre for boys with special educational needs in South Tyneside have been backed by readers.

Council bosses are due to make a decision tomorrow on a an application to turn Grade II listed St Bede’s Chambers, in Albert Road, Jarrow, into a centre for up to 50 youngsters - aged 11 to 16.

Planning officials say it should get the go-ahead but local residents - and South Tyneside Council’s deputy leader, Coun Alan Kerr have deep reservations.

They are concerned at the presence of youngsters - described as ‘vulnerable’ - and the impact of possible increased traffic and parking. The plan comes from The Harbour School Group which says students will arrive by taxi or public transport and that any off-site activity will be monitored by some of the 20 employees.

The centre will have classrooms, a workshop, main hall, meeting rooms, group rooms and other facilities.

Students will learn a mainstream syllabus, along with music and media, and vocational courses of brickwork, carpentry, decorating plumbing and catering.

Coun Kerr said: “I think this building could be put to better use and I’ve made that clear. I’m unhappy about this proposal.”

The concerns led to a flood of comments on the Gazette Facebook page.

Nigel Martin wrote: “There seems to be the problem these days with the older generation not giving these kids a chance to try and better themselves and get somewhere in life.”

Andrew Marshall added: “So, Councillor Kerr, what would be your proposal to put it “to better use”?

“What can possibly be better than to help local young people grow into better people and in our local community.”

Mike Robe added: “This seems like a great idea. As well as providing a vital service for those families who’s children require extra help, it also puts an organisation in charge of the building who will maintain it.”

The Harbour School Group could not be contacted for comment.

A final decision by South Tyneside Council’s planning committee is expected tomorrow.