Zoinks! A ghost story that's all too believable
The Mystery Machine drives in the children's centre car park. Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby climb out of the van.
Fred: This is the place, everyone. And we're here to solve a mystery.
Shaggy: But, like, where are we?
Daphne: It's a children's centre offering services for families with children under five.
Velma: It unofficially opened less than a year ago. And with the enthusiasm of its staff it quickly developed a packed timetable of activities for the local community.
Daphne: Like parent and toddler groups, soft play sessions and a childminders' cafe.
Shaggy: Cafe? Hear that Scoob?
Fred: But before Christmas, in a bid to cut costs, the council earmarked it for possible closure. The staff were issued with "risk of redundancy" notices.
Velma: By January, it hadn't yet had its "designation" - the council assessment that signs it off as an official children's centre.
Daphne: So a date was set for the end of the month. The staff slogged to get all the documentation in order, despite the possibility of redundancy.
Fred: Then a fleet of builders' trucks and diggers arrived in the car park.
Velma: So we did some digging of our own. Turns out it was the start of a #163;250,000 extension with a health clinic and a parenting room ... for a children's centre under threat of closure.
Shaggy: Zoinks! That's one crazy idea.
Fred: That's right. And with the diggers in full swing, the day arrived for designation.
Daphne: But the assessor refused to do the appraisal because of the building work, leaving the demoralised staff even more deflated.
(Scooby trots off to the children's centre.)
Fred: It's now April, and the centre is closing.
Shaggy: But like, the building work is still going on, dudes.
Daphne: That's right Shaggy. It will finish two weeks after the centre has shut.
Velma: Which means the health clinic will then be ready for baby check-ups that will never take place.
Fred: There's one more twist. The council has rescheduled the designation. So the centre will be officially recognised for all the support it won't be giving the community.
Daphne: And it'll just be one empty centre full of ghosts.
Shaggy: But there's no such ... GHOSTS! (Scooby races out, chased by a scary figure in white. Fred puts out his foot and trips him up.)
Fred: Nice work, Scooby.
Velma: That's no ghost. It's just someone hiding their shame under a white sheet.
(Velma lifts the sheet, revealing a sheepish man. The gang gasp in unison.)
Fred: Why, it's the member of the council responsible for closing down the centre.
Council member: And I've gotten away with it too, despite you meddling kids.
The details of this story are true. Colin Dowland is headteacher of a junior school in north London.