Former Victorian school in Cheltenham could be saved
A FORMER Victorian school in Cheltenham could be saved if its trustees receive community consent to pour local assets into its refurbishment.
The Old School Trust, which represents St Paul's Old School, in St Paul's Road, is seeking approval to spend the school's assets to fund community groups and repair the dilapidated building.
The 65-year-old venue is now used by several youth and community groups and is attended by around 100 people every week.
But without additional funding, its trustees are not certain they can secure its future.
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The trust, which was set up to run the school, is seeking to change its purpose so that it can gain access to funding.
Consultation will be held with members of the public next Thursday between 2pm and 6pm at the building to discuss the change.
Roger Widdecombe, trustee member and reverend at St Paul's Church, said: "The current trust is supposed to run a school so it needs to be changed. The new purpose will be for education for the people of St Paul's.
"The building isn't in the greatest shape at the moment and needs a lot of money spent on it which the trust do not have.
"So we need to find, as a part of this process, access to funds we need to keep it open and allow people to continue using it in the St Paul's."
In 1848, three local clergymen raised money to open the school for the "poor and labouring classes" of St Paul's and was then known as St Paul's Church of England Primary.
The school was closed down in 1980 and became St Paul's Church Centre.
But in 2002 there was confusion over who owned the building. The education authority and Old School Trust both claimed ownership and, after almost a decade of debate, the DfES confirmed in 2011 that the trust had sole ownership.
The hall is currently used by a youth group, children work and parties, Kung Fu classes and other community events.
Rev Widdecombe continued: "The trust tried to do something with it by fundraising but nobody knew who the building belonged to.
"By changing the trust's purpose, it will open up other funding streams and money which will secure the future of the building, keeping it as a resource for people of St Paul's.
"Currently there is a bid into Gloucestershire County Council for a CoMBI Grant for £25,000 to refurbish the ground floor.
"The decision will be made on October 28 whether we've been successful or not."