Talks to demolish school will be held after fire

Arsonists set fire to an empty Blackpool school yesterday, just days before councillors are set to talk about demolishing it.

Thursday, 6th October 2016, 11:42 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 6:31 pm
The old Aspire Academy buildings could be flattened (Pic: Google)

Firefighters were called to the empty Aspire Academy, in Bispham Road, after gym equipment inside was set alight at 6.25pm.

Youngsters have been seen inside the school grounds in recent days, while the council said ‘damage and disruption’ has been caused by numerous trespassers in recent months.

Crews were able to put out the small fire using a bucket of water, but police are now investigating the attack and are hunting those behind it.

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Officers believe they know who is behind the blaze – five youngsters were seen shortly before a fire alarm went off – and are working to track them down.

On Monday, police were called at 7pm after youths were spotted climbing on the roof, and again at 9.20pm after a bin was set alight close to the sports hall, a spokesman for Lancashire Police said.

“The former Bispham High School was until December 2015 utilised as a temporary facility for Aspire Academy, while that school was having a new school constructed on the old Collegiate High School site,” council papers said.

“Since this date the school has remained unoccupied and is now falling into a state of disrepair. During this period, the council has had to manage and fund the premises and grounds, and ensure they are kept safe and secure.

“There have been a number of instances over recent months where trespassers have entered the building causing damage and disruption. As a result of this, the council has had to increase the number of security patrols which is resulting in increased costs.”

Councillors will meet at the town hall on Monday to talk about flattening the building, which would cost £350,000.

Other options include demolishing only part of it, or none of it at all.

One consideration is the number of school places, though the town’s long term needs will be met when the Fylde Coast Academy Trust (FCAT) opens a new school in Lytham Road, South Shore, on the site of the old Arnold school, in 2018, papers add.

The council said it would retain ownership of the land, though a proposed use has not been identified.

To date, around £60,000 has been spent securing and maintaining the site, documents also revealed, which business rates cost the council an extra £99,000 per year.