RESIDENTS who are set to have a pupil referral unit in their midst have had mixed reactions to the news.

Southend Council has confirmed it is to refurbish the empty Wentworth Road school building, former Cecil Jones Lower School, and use it to cater for children who have been excluded from school for behavioural and emotional issues.

The news ends speculation over what would become of the large site which was vacated by Cecil Jones Lower School pupils two years ago.

But not everyone viewed it as a positive move.

Resident Chrissy Bacon, 42, said: “No thanks. It’s going to be a nightmare.

"The last kids we had there used to leave lots of rubbish outside the house. You couldn’t even park your car.

“I’m not looking forward to it reopening, it’s going to be bedlam.

“I don’t really want it there. I don’t suppose anybody else who lives here does either, to be honest.”

Others were more supportive of the new use for the building.

Maureen Coffin, 82, said: “I like kids so the noise doesn’t bother me at all. It’s just the question of having the troubled boys there.

“Are they going to be disruptive and cause damage? There was always a lot of rubbish when they kids were here.

“But I suppose the kids have got to go somewhere.”

Shopworker Jenny Miles added: “I’m not too worried, I suppose. We did have problems with kids hanging around on the street, but after a while the school did put people out there.

“So as long as that still happens. It’s all down to how it’s done really.”

The council were yesterday unable to respond to a request for further information about the refurbishment, but revealed the work had been put out to tender for up to £95,000. It is unclear if this is the full cost of the project however, or where the money is coming from.

The school building will be used to transfer students from Seabrook College in Prittlewell.

Seabrook caters for children with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties.

It currently has 44 children aged between 11 and 16.

However, the Wentworth Road school has space for 200 to 300 children, raising questions over what the extra space will be used for.

Many of the children have been excluded from schools across the borough because of behaviour problems.

James Courtenay, councillor responsible for education said the aim was to “get these children back into school and provide training for alternative qualifications to GCSEs”.

On the Echo’s website Shocked Resident posted: “To see this on Facebook last night and to be told it was in the Echo I am shocked & disgusted that no thought has been given to the residents.

“I have lived here for 25 years and we have never had any issues. Well done to those concerned that have now made a nice road into a worried neighbourhood.

“Maybe if you had kept us informed things would be different!”

But Seabrook pupil xxchickrosie posted: “I am a student of Seabrook College. I’ve been here for 4 years now and we may look like problem children but we are certainly not!

“I am just about to take my GCSE’s and hope to go to college! The school helps us turn our lives around.... people shouldn’t judge us x.”