Stone fall near school sparks fears

PARENTS have voiced their concerns after a large stone fell from a building next to Morpeth First School.

Police were called at 9.20am yesterday following the incident at Morpeth Court House in Goosehill, where a piece of masonry came down onto the footpath.

Officers cordoned off the area, then structural engineers from Northumberland County Council came to the scene to take charge.

Among the concerned parents was Michelle Twizell, who said: “I didn’t find out about this until lunchtime, but since then we’ve all been saying how terrible it could have been if someone had been hit by the stone because it was quite a big piece.

“Children at the nursery were moved to another classroom, as staff were concerned that more stone could have fallen off.”

Another parent said: “A friend told me she went straight back to her car to move it, as she was worried that more stone would come off.

“It’s very unfortunate that this happened and thankfully no-one got injured.”

A temporary footpath around the Court House was put in place yesterday afternoon.

A county council spokesperson said: “We are working with the owner of the building to agree a solution which will ensure public safety.”

The John Dobson-designed building was originally constructed in the 1820s.

The 1980s saw the property offered for sale at the nominal sum of £1. It was bought by a Newcastle entrepreneur to be turned into luxury apartments along with a restaurant and bar, which later closed to be replaced by a fitness studio.

The gym shut down in the middle of the last decade and then plans by developers Kensington and Partners to establish a new restaurant received a boost in 2008 when the idea secured planning permission from the former Castle Morpeth Borough Council.

The recession put paid to those hopes and the company has been working ever since to find new business tenants.