Author: Cyril Richert
This is our fourth article (of six) of our series on primary schools in the Clapham Junction area.
At the Committee meeting on July 5th, a report by the Director of Children’s Services on additional primaryschool places (specifically the proposal to expand Belleville School, SW11) was produced.
It says that the Council has received 500 responses. 33 were in favour, 456 against and 11 were unclear. The vast majority of these respondents supported the use of the Forthbridge Road site to provide additional primary school places but the majority of the objectors were opposed to the fact that the distance criteria for admissions would be based on the distance from the main Belleville site and that this would effectively stop children local to the Forthbridge Road site obtaining a place. A number of respondents also pointed out that having more children travelling into the area could lead to an increase in traffic movement.
A number, particularly those associated with Wix School, suggested that Wix School should manage the Forthbridge Road site. A smaller number indicated that a separate new school in Shaftesbury Ward would benefit the local community and shops.
The report responded to the criticisms saying:
All of these comments are understandable but they do not address the problem the Council’s proposal is designed to address, which is insufficient places in the area around Belleville and Honeywell Schools and the lack of any alternative primary provision. Nevertheless, a review of the admission criteria for the area is proposed in Paper No. 10-540 in order to ensure the concerns raised by the respondents are fully considered.
Finally, a number complained about the consultation process. There were two issues. First, that the consultation did not cover a wide enough geographical area, Second, the first consultation did not specifically refer to the admission arrangements for the new site,
The area covered by the consultation was the standard area that would normally be covered in any local planning consultation. In any future consultation on this particular issue, a wider area will be covered. On the second point, the consultation was very clear that this was a proposal to expand Belleville School. It was not a consultation on a change to the existing admission arrangements for Belleville School. In the second consultation, the admission arrangements were clearly set out as this has been requested by some respondents.
It is clear that additional places are required to address the demand in the Northcote area and there are no alternative sites for expansion which are immediately available to the Council. Nevertheless, a review of the admission criteria for the area around the Forthbridge Road site is proposed in order to ensure the concerns raised by the respondents are fully considered. This will be a broader consultation covering issues such as admission arrangements; the most recent consultation about which the deputation complained, concerned only a proposal to expand Belleville School.
First you create a “fait accompli” in increasing Belleville, where the only solution is the extension in Forthbridge road. Second, you promise a vague consultation where you a) do not link the use of the site with the result, b) do not commit to any change, c) melt the issue within a global question.
Next week: Solutions for Belleville extension?