A COMMUNITY campaign has been praised for helping to push forward plans for a new school.
Seaham School of Technology was due to be replaced under the national Building Schools for the Future programme, but the proposal was shelved when the Coalition Government axed the scheme.
In desperate need of a fit-for-purpose building – and with a £7.5million repair bill to bring its existing site up to standard – families joined Durham County and Seaham Town councils and Easington MP Grahame Morris to call for action.
Hundreds signed a petition to be forwarded to the Government, and the issue was also raised in the House of Commons.
Durham County Council has now approved an investment programme which has ensured Seaham School is among top priorities for improvements.
Based on expected levels of Government funding – due to be confirmed in coming weeks – it hopes to put aside £17.5million for the new building.
The former Seaham Colliery site, off Station Road, has been earmarked for the complex, and planning permission granted.
Mr Morris said: “The local councillors have worked incredibly hard to secure the vital funding needed to rebuild Seaham School of Technology.
“The whole community of Seaham has been campaigning for over a year to secure the modern educational facilities our young people deserve.
“The Coalition Government’s decision to scrap Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme meant it lost out on the original funding. We are now looking to the Government again to release the capital funding that, alongside Durham County Council’s investment, will secure a better future for our young people in Seaham.”
Other schools to be improved as part of the council’s plan include Durham Trinity and Elemore Hall special schools in Durham.
The investment plan stretches runs until 2015 and is based on the £13.5million the authority has been given for the next financial year.
Education chiefs have already indicated to the council the cash would be in line with 2011/12, which means a total of £54.4million.
The full amount would not be enough to cover the costs of all the projects, which led cabinet members to agree to move cash from other areas towards the cost.
Coun Claire Vasey, cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “I am particularly pleased that we have been able to confirm this, so that schools have some certainty about investment going in to the long summer break.”