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Heritage archives and artefacts to move to Guidhall in 11th hour u-turn
Plans to move the borough’s archives and artefacts to a pupil referral unit for excluded schoolchildren have been thwarted at the 11th hour.
The previous Liberal Democrat administration had planned to move the archives, which include 160 years of Surrey Comets, from the North Kingston Centre to the Mecklenburg Pupil Referral Unit in the Dukes Centre on the edge of Ham.
But the new Conservative administration has blocked the move.
Councillor Andrea Craig, lead member for children, youth and adult learning, said: “People who have been expelled from schools are very vulnerable. It is not legitimate for children to be put in the same environment as a heritage service.”
The relocation had originally been part of the £1.5m scheme to move adult education classes and services to the King Charles Centre and Newent House in Surbiton to make way for a new secondary school at the North Kingston Centre.
The archives are now due to be kept underneath the listed Guildhall building inside the former magistrates’ court in Kingston from next July.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Liz Green, leader of the opposition, said: “It [archive centre and pupil referral unit] was going to have two entrances.
"We would not have integrated vulnerable children and young people with the people that came to use the archives.”
She said moving to the Guildhall may mean organisations such as Kingston Voluntary Action – promised space – may not be included.
But Jennifer Butterworth, chairwoman of Kingston Society, said: “As long as the two caveats [are met] to protect a listed building, and it is not in the flood area, it would seem on the face of it a better solution.”
Kingston Council leader Kevin Davis said: “The historic centre of the borough is Kingston and being closer to the museum, All Saints’ Church and the market is more sensible.”