This week's Chronicle reports that the Buerton school building, closed a year ago by Cheshire County Council, has been put up for sale. The Victorian Society, which campaigns for the Victorian and Edwardian historic environment, is reported to have welcomed the news.
Buerton residents campaigned hard to keep the school which had been built originally through donations and subscriptions by the people of Buerton and Audlem. We are told the building was transferred over to the management of the then education authority in the 1920's on the basis that it remained an educational establishment. The school was then registered, we understand, by Cheshire County Council with Land Registry as under the county's ownership as recently as 2004 – coincidentally, about the time the county started the closure process.
This raises a number of questions. Are there legal documents authorizing that change of ownership? Or is this covered by some all-embracing law such as the 1944 Education Act? And, whatever the legal case, should the proceeds of the sale disappear in to the county's coffers, or should the monies go to the local community, or even to the descendents of those who originally made the donations and subscriptions? We understand that latter course has been the decision in similar cases elsewhere.
We don't know the answers to these complex questions but they are worth asking. The Buerton and Audlem area has less in the way of community facilities compared with urban parts of Cheshire. It would be a huge pity if it was simply the county's finances that benefited by the county's removal of a local asset that had served the community, and generations of Buerton schoolchildren, for 130 years.
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