The old St. James School site which is the subject of a planning application N/2011/0504, has been in the media spotlight recently. Chair and Secretary of the SJRA both were heard live on Radio Northampton’s breakfast show recently outside the school. The argument was put against demolition of the building and instead to convert. The plan is to leave the one hall type building that fronts on to St. James Road for some sort of community use and demolish all the buildings behind and replace them with 14 houses with access from Greenwood Road. The houses will be in a traditional style that complements the existing area. The plans can be viewed online at www.northampton.gov.uk or at the Guildhall. The residents association are watching with interest and are looking to make some alterations to the plan and are keen to hear from concerns from residents. The residents association has objected to the application. They feel that the school site is a valuable building in terms of the history of St. James and is part of the fabric of the area, as such it needs to be preserved with perhaps conversion to residential use or small niche businesses. The building date from 1866, when the first building, on St. James road was constructed. This building predates the church by two years which was completed in 1868. The rest of the school was erected in 1874 (the buildings behind the church) and 1891 (the buildings on Greenwood Road). Too many historic buildings have been lost in the town and St. James already. The school is very important to the shoe making history of the town as it served the local residents who worked in the shoe factories which dominated the area. In addition the school was started before St. James became a parish proper in 1872. The developers claim that they can find no historic link between the Church and the school, despite the obvious facts that it was a church school, the land is still owned, by the Diocese and countless children walked across the playground directly into the church, myself included! The developer, although they do not own the site yet has agreed a sale with the Diocese for £2 million subject to planning permission. Apparently it is all quite legal for someone to apply for planning permission even though they do not own the site! The church has raised one objection of security and are insisting that, should the buildings behind the church be demolished then a 2 metre high brick wall should be constructed to protect the church from intruders.
Local councillor Terry Wire has apparently “called in” the application so as it can be heard by the planning committee instead of one planning officer.
The Friends of the Library group is still looking for new members who are interested in protecting their Library for present and future generations. Contact them through the details below if you want to help out. The Library needs regular users if it is to survive and a Friends group can actively promote the Library. The Library service will shortly commence a public consultation on their plans as part of the comprehensive review of the whole Library service. Concern is being expressed that nothing has changed and all that will happen is that if no money can be found to contribute to the costs or volunteers cannot be sought to help out then the Library will close anyway, along with any other that is in the same situation! St. James Library is at an immediate disadvantage to others as the space it occupies is too small and does not lend itself to holding events or even just sitting down to read! There are not enough chairs or room to put them and no adequate signage to inform people of the library’s presence. Spread the word, talk to friends, family and neighbours and get down to your Library. Just because you may not use it, others do and it is their lifeline. The Friends group has finalised its response to the stakeholders consultation which will supposedly form the basis of the public consultation. It remains to be seen if the Library service will heed the Friends group’s advice!
Advisors from Options 2 who is a Next Step provider and able to offer employment and training advice will be coming out to St James Library each Wednesday between 4-6 to give advice and support to jobseekers. An appointment system is in place to take up the time slots so bookings have to be made through the library. This service will be continuing into the autumn.
Other events at St. James Library include Rhymetime for young children every Tuesday morning from 10:30 -11:00am.
Also this years Summer Reading Challenge events begin on Saturday 23rd July and the theme this year is Circus Stars!
Children between the ages of 4 and 12 will be able to collect a Circus Stars membership card from their local library, and on their next visit they can also collect a Circus Stars Stage, showing the 3 parts of the Circus Skills Academy: Practice, Rehearsal and Show Time! For every two books children read, they will receive a set of stickers. Once they have read six books from the library they will be rewarded with a special medal and certificate. Complete the challenge and enter a prize draw with the chance to win a £10 book token. Is there a cost? Most activities are free but there is a small charge for some activities to cover costs.
Events included in the Circus Stars theme will be as follows; Big Top Biscuits (Free) 4-8s on Thursday 28/07/2011 at 3.00pm-3.45pm, Beast Quest (Free) 6-12s on Friday 05/08/2011 at 2.30pm-3.30pm, Circus Stars Rhymetime (Free) Under 5s on Tuesday 09/08/2011 at 10.00am-11.00am, Life Sized Clowns (Free) 4-8s on Thursday 11/08/2011 at 2.30pm 3.30pm, K'Nex Building Afternoon (Free) All ages on Friday 19/08/2011 at 2.30pm-4.30pm, Very Hungry Caterpillar (Free) 4-8s on Tuesday 23/08/2011 at 2.30pm-3.15pm, Lion Tamer and his Lion Craft (Free) 6-12s on Wednesday 24/08/2011 at 2.30pm-3.30pm, Magic Ballerina (Free) 6-12s on Tuesday 30/08/2011 at 2.30pm-3.30pm, Teddy Bear's Picnic (Free) Under 5s on Tuesday 30/08/2011 at 10.00am-11.00am.
Remember Dad’s and Grandparents can come along too! For more information telephone the Library on 01604 751037 or drop in to St. James Library during opening hours; Monday closed Tuesday to Friday 2.00-600pm, Saturday: 10.00am-2.00pm.
Who says that nothing happens at our Library?!
The “estate walkabout” was on 4th July, where the local housing officer walks the area to see what problems council tenants are experiencing, highlighted the same perennial problems which the council keeps ignoring. Committee members from the SJRA and local residents accompanied the officer on his tour along with the councillor Terry Wire. Since that walk it has emerged that the housing officer is leaving after only being in the post for a few months. St. James it seems can only keep a housing officer for one or two months before they move to another job, it is no wonder the residents feel let down by the council as nothing that is reported gets done because there is no one to follow it up!
Chair of the residents’ association, John Connolly has written to the council to voice his serious concerns that this is having on the area and to complain about the ongoing issues that the council seem to be ignoring, like fly tipping, street maintenance, and waste collection to name but three issues that are a big problem in the area. Many residents will have seen the continuing decline in maintenance standards in our streets, with weeds growing out of every crack and crevice on our pavements, trees and bushes that have not been pruned in many months, pavements that have not been repaired. The area looks like a third world country and has done for some time, the previous council administration started the cutbacks in maintenance during their tenure and we are now seeing the results of their work. The SJRA has made complaints to the local Councillor who intends to take up the issue, and are urging local residents to also make complaints to the council.
We are asked to have pride in our town and urged to take part in the “in bloom” competition, but what incentive is their when the rest of the area looks scruffy and unkempt. One can only wonder what visitors to the town think when they see the condition of our streets.
Councillor Wire has been busy since his election dealing with residents issues as well as dealing with more general items. At long last the pathways outside Cordwainer House, which have been pushed up by tree roots, may be getting repaired. This dangerous, and unacceptable situation has gone on for too long. Bizarrely, the trees were chopped down but the serious tripping hazards remained. Councillor wire has requested urgent action and the hazardous area is now cordoned of pending remedial work.
The Community Centre on St. James Square has been added to the councils list of centre’s that it wants groups to take over and run. Several groups and organisations have shown an interest so far and the Doddridge centre is one of them in partnership with the SJRA to form the committee. It is vital to again preserve this facility for the whole community to use, as opposed to one self interest group, and this is one way of doing it. The application is still being formulated and will take some time as the forms are rather and unnecessarily complicated.
The residents Association are always welcoming of new committee members and encourage interest from all walks of life. They have a comprehensive equal opportunities policy in place, so if you want to be involved contact us by the details below. In addition, we are seeking a minute taker for our meetings. The ability to use word processing software and e-mail would be very useful, so if you can spare a couple of hours every six weeks or so, again let us know!
The last residents meeting of the SJRA was on the 30th June and was well attended. As well as many local residents local Councillors Tony Clarke (Castle) and Terry Wire (St. James) and Police Community Support Officer Lee Shelton were in attendance and gave updates and contributions to the meeting and answered residents questions. There was also a quest speaker from the University talking about Neighbourhood Plans where the local community decides which are the best priorities for its own areas as part of the Council’s local plan.