NOTES TAKEN AT THE PUBLIC MEETING held in the Shirley Hall, Liverpool Blue Coat School, Church Road, Wavertree, on 24th May 2001
The meeting was addressed by Mr Peter Healey (Chairman of the Liverpool Blue Coat School Foundation), Mr Chris Hallows (Chairman of the Governing Body), Mr Sandy Tittershill (Headmaster), Mr Ian Quayle (Weightman & Bullen, Architects to the Foundation) and Mr Trevor Powell (Aquila Consultancy, Architects to the Governing Body). It was attended by about 50 people.
Mr Healey opened the meeting at 7.05 p.m. by introducing the other speakers, and outlining the history of the School since 1708, when it was founded by Bryan Blundell and Robert Styth as the very first charity in Liverpool. He said it has always been recognised as an integral part of the history of the city. After its move to Wavertree in 1906 it had remained a mixed boarding school until 1949, when it became a boys-only school under the control of the LEA. Over the next 40 years the Foundation Trustees had spent over £1 million on the exterior of the building, but the interior had been neglected by the City Council. In 1984, during the Hatton era, a 'cease to maintain' order had been proposed, but this plan was defeated thanks to a vigorous campaign. Then in 1999 the government had approved a £7 million grant towards the refurbishment of the school, to be spent over a three-year period, and the Foundation had offered another £1 million. Later in 1999, however, it became apparent that the government was reluctant to release the money. The DfEE asked the School to look at alternative sites - initially in Kensington, then in Netherley, and finally in Earle Road - instead of refurbishing the existing building. A meeting with Jacqui Smith MP took place, at which she made clear the government's view that the physical size of the school must be reduced by two-thirds. Hence the current proposals.
Mr Hallows then outlined the objectives of the meeting. The Governing Body had recently approved the plans for extending and remodelling the school, and the applications for planning permission and listed building consent would be submitted very shortly. The meeting was aimed at three main groups: local residents, prospective parents and existing parents, though the existing parents had already had their own meeting. The good news, he said, was that 'we're still on the path of moving forward'. The DfEE had confirmed, the week before last, that the money was still available, the only condition being that there must be an 'agreed plan' - agreed, that is, between the Governors, the Trustees, the DfEE and the City Council, but not necessarily with planning permission. There had certainly been delays, and Mr Hallows thanked particularly the Leader and the Chief Executive of the City Council, both of whom had been very supportive of the School's wish to remain on the existing site and to go on providing a good education to the city's children. A small Steering Committee had been formed - consisting of Mr Healey, Mr Hallows and Richard Woolford from the LEA - assisted by the two sets of architects, the former Acting Head Helen Gaunt, and representatives of the City Planning Department. At the previous Parents' Meeting, Trevor Powell had gone through the proposed decanting arrangements in detail. The present projected on-site starting date is January 2002. The government grant is fixed in cash terms, so any lengthening of the building programme would erode its value owing to inflation. 'A few minor modifications' to the proposed new entrance area and the construction materials have been requested, and it is now anticipated that the Governors and the Trustees will be meeting early in June to approve the plans prior to their submission to the City Council.
(These notes were taken by a member of the Wavertree Society
and are NOT an official record. E. & O.E.)