Tollbar Multi-Academy Trust has strenuously denied claims that they don’t allow ‘community use’ of school facilities, following concerns raised by Louth Town Council.
At the town council’s meeting last week, Coun Jill Makinson-Sanders raised her concerns that, with the formation of the new Louth Academy, the hire and use of school buildings and playing fields were ‘no longer’ available to the community of Louth - potentially leading to what was described as ‘deleterious effects’ on community cohesion.
The debate followed the recent news that the Louth Radio Control Car Club has been told it can no longer host its regular Friday evening meetings in the hall at Cordeaux Academy - which is now known as the Louth Academy North Campus, following the takeover by Tollbar Multi Academy Trust (TMAT) - after the end of this year.
Councillors said they were not aware of any other groups being allowed to continue using the Trust’s facilities following the takeover.
Coun George Horton said: “To my own granddaughter’s netball team, and our other basketball teams, they just said ‘that’s it, go’. It is private clubs that have been going for years, they’ve just come along and said: ‘out!’”
Coun Makinson-Sanders said: “[These facilities] were our assets, we paid for them through our county council rates. And this transfer precludes us using these premises which gave us sporting opportunities, clubs and hobbies.
“This town is a net loser. They are part of our community; we support them and they should support us in return.”
Many councillors spoke during the debate to express their dismay at the apparent situation, and it was agreed that they would write to the Trust, Victoria Atkins MP, and Secretary of State for Education, Justine Greening.
Following the council meeting, David Hampson, CEO at Tollbar Multi Academy Trust, challenged some of the claims that had been made.
Mr Hampson told the Leader: “Our priority is providing quality education for the children of Louth.
“We do have community use at Tollbar MAT Academies, including Louth Academy, so long as it is cost effective and has no impact on the resources of the students.
“We currently have an agreement with a charitable organisation, Louth and District Dog Club, who use the facilities free of charge because of their registered charity status at no cost to the Academy.
“Unfortunately, for financial reasons we have had to end the Car Club contract at the end of December. However, because of the inconvenience to them, we have not charged them for using the Academy hall this term.
“Our work is ongoing at Louth Academy, but there is an open invitation to Louth Town Council members to visit the Academy and see for themselves the positive investment we have made so far in the interests of the students.”