Two days ago we had a “private meeting” with Kathy Tracey the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Peter Dawson the Chair of the Education Overview Committee. Adrian Butler from Children’s Services also attended.
We sadly learned very little at this meeting that we did not already know from the two-page Paper 10-54A put out on after the consult closed on Fri25th.
– The Council defended their consultation: they believe it was fair, despite our complaints about omitting the admission criteria in the initial consultation and that many locally were not consulted.
– They re-iterated the demand they see for places at Belleville but they see no such unmet demand in this area (because by “this area” they mean the huge Planning Area between here and the river encompassing four council wards: St Mary’s Park, Latchmere, Shaftesbury and Queenstown).
They would not really engage with our argument that our more recent FOI data shows demand for school places actually near the Forthbridge site is growing and is actually now stronger than for those at Belleville.
Adrian Butler did helpfully offer to let us have more data and we are requesting this.
The Council cite a vague future consultation
More importantly the Council feel that their already-suggested recommendation for a future consultation on admissions across several schools is an adequate response to our 469 objections. They say it is “too soon” to agree now on the wording of this. We re-iterated time and again that we felt this huge objection was already to the admission proposal – that people had already spoken and they think a school, any school that local children cannot access is very unfair.
We fear a vague future consultation will do nothing to address the very specific issues about this site.
Admission must be changed for local children to attend
In the meeting we made it very clear that we did not wish to disrupt any children already-promised places or any work on keeping the site in school-use, (what the vast majority of local people want), but we felt they had not really responded to us. We continue to push for the admission to be changed in future so that local children have a chance of access.
The Council is rushing decision
We are still forming a deputation to the Education committee this Thurs 1st July, please continue to let councillors and media know if you object (contact the councillors on the committee if you agree this plan is unfair).
The huge local objection to this only became clear on the very last day of the consultation 24th June, while the Education committee tomorrow is only a week on from that. The Executive committee is then 5th July, so this feels all quite rushed through by the council.
To deny access to the school to local children is just wrong
There’s a clear, growing need for more primary places so suitable school sites in the Borough are difficult to come by.
Belleville is the largest “Outstanding” School in the Borough, (soon to be the country) so of course it is oversubscribed and sadly that’s a problem it wasn’t able or willing to solve itself on-site.
To simply land grab a site in a different area while excluding children who live in that area is just grossly unfair. Especially when demand for school places in that very area is actually greater (and we can prove it!) than for Belleville.
This plan sets a very dangerous precedent that goes against the very simple idea of local schools for local children (see our previous article).
Read also our previous article on the Forthbridge school issue here, including information and data on the demand for a school site near Forthbridge and the issue on consultation.