In spring 2010, when City College announced closure of the Connaught Centre, saveHOVE mounted a campaign and raised a petition to ask BHCC to take it – both to ensure its future as a school and to ensure its future as a Listed building.
Listed or not, the great danger of this lovely purpose-built Victorian Infants school being sold to a developer, demolished or converted to flats, was a huge spur to act. It had not made the BHCC short list for a new infants/primary school and so we had to take a stand and fight for it.
Goldsmid Ward Cllr Melanie Davis had been invited to attend the saveHOVE petition launch and brought Action4Kids to the Argus photo-call outside Connaught School. It was they who collected most of petition signatures. This was an alliance which continues.
When saveHOVE asked the brand new Hove MP, Mike Weatherley to sign this petition, his response was to lay on a public meeting in the Connaught Centre gymnasium. He invited his Conservative Administration colleagues from BHCC to attend. They sat there stonefaced. The responsible council officer, Gill Sweetenham, along with Cabinet Member with responsibility for schools, Cllr Vanessa Brown flanked the MP to brief those attending and take questions.
At its end, he cheerfully announced to the assembled parents, cllrs and other residents that he supported the saveHOVE campaign and would be signing the petition, sending a clear signal to his Conservative Administration colleagues at BHCC. His endorsement almost certainly tipped the balance.
A deal was struck with City College and the Connaught School for it to be administered/managed by West Hove School for a period of 2 years, since made permanent. Connaught is a satellite attached to it. At this time, in pursuit of a policy of creating Free Schools and Academy Schools, the Coalition Government prohibits any new schools being opened under local authority control. This means that any ‘new’ schools have to be satellites of an existing school.
Both external repairs and renovations, including a new roof and replacement terracotta features along with extensive internal changes were successfully completed and small children once again attend this lovely school .