Pregnant bats delay school demolition

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Robert Bruce School in Kempston (image: Google Streetview May 2019)
Robert Bruce School in Kempston (image: Google Streetview May 2019)

The demolition of Kempston’s Robert Bruce School has been delayed due to pregnant bats, a meeting heard.

During Wednesday’s Full Council Meeting (20 March) cllr (Labour, Kempston North) said she was “pleased” to see in the council’s budget that £1.49 million was allocated for the demolition of the old Robert Bruce school.

“The building of the new school… is getting on very well indeed and it looks set to open this September on time,” she said. “So could we please have an update on the plans and timing of the demolition of the old building,” she asked.

The portfolio holder for families, education and children’s services, cllr Jane Walker (Conservative, Clapham & Oakley) said: “The good news is the new school is on track ready to open in September with its first cohort of children.

“We had planned to have the contractors who are at the site at the moment building the school to stay on-site and demolish the old school.

“They went into the school to investigate to see what they needed to do and they discovered bats, not just ordinary bats, but pregnant bats.

“So that means that we can’t do anything until Natural England has given us the go-ahead. But obviously, this does delay everything. We’re happy to wait until Natural England gives us the go-ahead to do anything with Robert Bruce.

“As soon as they do give us the go-ahead we plan to take down the old school during school holidays so that we don’t disturb the children and young people who are in.

“We will be talking to the school to see if there’s any part of the demolition that they might be interested in watching then obviously we can incorporate that.

“But at the moment we haven’t got a date for the demolition of the old school,” she said. Cllr Oliver said that residents should be kept up to date with any delays.

“I noticed walking past despite the other day they now have a community notice board outside,” she said.

“It may be worth displaying something on [that],” she said.

The government website states: “All bat species, their breeding sites and resting places are fully protected by law – they’re European protected species.”

It adds that breaking the law on bat protection could mean a prison sentence of up to six months and/or an unlimited fine.

By John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter