Who will win bidding battle for old Lindsey Lower School site?
BIDDERS competing to take on the old Lindsey Lower School went head to head at a meeting to discuss the landmark building's future – but who made it through to the next round still remains a mystery.
North East Lincolnshire Council's Policy, Performance and Resources Scrutiny Panel made the unusual decision to invite petitioners and bidders to present their cases to them at the public meeting yesterday before they make recommendations to Cabinet in November – but only two of the nine arrived to present their case.
These were Grimsby disability charity, the Rock Foundation, and Yorkshire-based care home company, Yorkare Homes Ltd.
Once each made their presentations, the panel excluded the press and public from the meeting to hear recommendations made by council officers and an evaluation by the authority's strategic director of resources.
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The Telegraph understands councillors have agreed to send four of the officers' preferred bids to Cabinet and one will be chosen as the best option.
The names of the four bids were not disclosed to councillors, only how they scored against criteria, such as the number of jobs created and the social benefits it would bring.
As reported, the Rock Foundation wants the council to hand over the £1 million building to them for free and they would run it as a resource centre for people with disabilities, while Yorkare hopes to transform it into a £6 million nursing home specialising in dementia, complete with an indoor street. Both want to save the 1925 building from demolition.
Representing Rock Foundation – supported by 1,550 signatures – Ken Smith and Pam Hodge argued the building was built for the community and should be used for their benefit.
Mr Smith said: "It has a heritage that means a tremendous amount to people because of its involvement with the community. It wasn't built to provide a financial return. It was built for the hundreds of families in the area and as such we feel it necessary that continues.
"We want it to help people with difficulties in their lives, like people with disabilities because that then takes the original idea of the school to a higher level. After all, the community is what the school is all about and that should judge your decision. The school should be there for the community, not just for a commercial group."
Development manager for Yorkare, Lawrence Garton, urged councillors to back their bid which meets an "urgent need" in Cleethorpes and Grimsby.
The indoor street – which would have shops, hair salon, bar and cinema – would generate an estimated £80,000 per year for the local economy and the home as a whole would bring 100 jobs – or an estimated £1.1-million a year in wages.
Mr Garton said: "Your support is important because of how bad the current situation is. Currently there are no nursing beds in this area.
"The home will be central to the community. It is innovative care in an innovative environment."
George Georgio, of Cleethorpes, also presented a petition to save the building, arguing it could be run by the community.