Six months to save a school

Something I wrote:

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£1.8 Million needs to be raised before Royal Park School can be saved by local residents.

Leeds City council have agreed to the Royal Park Community Consortium’s bid to save the building if they can raise the agreed money in less than six months.

Seven years after the school initially shut a group of locals who call themselves the Royal Park Community Consortium (RPCC) are having to find new ways of raising money to acquire the building. The RPCC initially had until September to raise funds for the first part of the development. Help came in the form of Communitybuilders Fund which promised £830,000 worth of funding, on one condition: the group were to have the rest of the money needed to fulfil the bid first. It leaves the community founded group the task of raising £1.8 million before the end of September. The Communitybuilders fund, 60% of which would be loan and the remainder a grant would vastly increase the likihood of securing the building’s lease. Plans the RPCC have for the school include transforming it into a community ‘hub’, complete with a crèche, cafe, garden and a library. “It’s a big challenge,” says English teacher John Lawrence. “But right throughout this project we’ve had these goalposts being set up only for them to move again. “We’ve always responded well to that and we’re quite optimistic about our chances of getting the money together.” The effort by the consortium is reminiscent of David Cameron’s Big Society vision. A vision which the locals are eager to exploit. Paul Hudson who runs the consortium’s blog believed that the key now is promoting the previous efforts in the hope that more local residents in Hyde Park and the rest of Leeds would help raise money for the cause. Hudson says that the consortium are arguing their case to the Big Lottery Fund which applies a ‘post-code’ ethos of only helping those living in the 10% of worst areas in the country- of which Hyde Park falls short. Local businesses and individuals can help support the group by donating, sponsoring a brick or attending weekly meetings on Tuesday evenings at the Burley Lodge Centre. Donations can be made through Paypal.

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