THE impending sale of Newby Wiske Hall to PGL Ltd raises numerous concerns.

Former employees at the hall, the very earliest parts of which I believe date back to 1683, have expressed their horror at the thought of 550 children, plus adult staff, attempting to evacuate the building in the event of a fire.

Although there is no doubt that a fire certificate will be issued, there is a big difference between 400 adult staff, familiar with the building (and only working there during daylight hours) having to evacuate, compared to 550 panic-stricken children of various ages between seven and 17 years, possibly having to evacuate a building they are totally unfamiliar with, in the middle of the night, in the event of a fire.

Couple this with the prospect that PGL have also applied for Listed Building Consent to install frosted glass in some windows in order to facilitate building a wall across the inside of those windows, thus further limiting available escape routes.

I have no doubt that fire drills will be held, but as PGL are already advertising courses of varying duration, ie two-day, three-day, fourday etc, they will have a continually rotating population of children.

Will they really hold fire drills virtually every day in order to ensure that all children in their care are familiar with the procedure to be followed in the event of such an emergency?

This is a very old building, which according to PGL’s own plans is going to be turned into a rabbit warren of corridors and small rooms by virtue of partitioning.

What will the partitions be constructed of?

I, for one, would not rest easy if my children were staying there.

Carol Bowe, Newby Wiske