Headteacher's relief at closure of crack house

A HEADTEACHER has spoken of his shock at the discovery of a crack house just yards from the school gates.

Mark Ridlinton, of the Grove Primary School and Nursery, said the discovery of a suspected crack den in the same quiet cul-de-sac of Pickersleigh Grove was “not the sort of thing you want to read about”.

Despite his shock at the drug activity, Mr Ridlinton welcomed police placing a closure order on the property for 88 days.

He said: “The initial impression was, ‘Oh, we don’t need this,’ but it’s good to read about the police having that effect and shutting these things down.”

Discussions with parents on the playground and meetings with school governors also raised further concerns about the impact the stigma of a crack den, a place where crack cocaine is bought and sold, could have on the school.

Mr Ridlinton said: “There was a bit of concern that the community had taken a bit of a bashing and then if people would look at it and see a link with the school.

“From the school’s point of view we are working hard to turn the school around and repair the school’s reputation.

“Most of the comments were from frustration because we are trying to get a better perception of what we are doing to try and turn the school around.”

The school is now focusing on progressing to an overall category of ‘good’ from education watchdog Ofsted after being labelled inadequate in September 2011 and satisfactory in October 2012.

This comes after reaching the Government’s floor standards in reading, writing and maths for the last three years and Mr Ridlinton says they have “completely overhauled” their curriculum.

He added: “Everyone is working incredibly hard to get this school back to where it should be and where we want it to be.

The closure order on the ground-floor flat, which housed a crack den frequented by drug users day and night, was sanctioned by Worcester’s magistrates court under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 – the first such closure in the district.

Police documents used to obtain the order confirmed the registered tenant of the Festival Housing- owned property was Robert Horne, aged 40.

Three unnamed men were arrested on suspicion of conspiring to supply a class A drug.

Police said Mr Horne had been arrested on a previous occasion and was not one of the three arrested on November 27.

Horne and the three other men remain on police bail until the end of January.

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