Council ‘not listening’ over Hitchin school expansion

A PUBLIC meeting on controversial plans to expand a primary school attracted more than 100 people, many of whom voiced concerns about the proposals.

Herts County Council wants to double the size of Samuel Lucas JMI School in Hitchin – but some residents and parents oppose the plans.

At a meeting chaired by education chief Justin Donovan, about 120 people packed into the school hall last Wednesday, to ask questions and voice their concerns.

It was the second meeting as such, and follows a fresh consultation being launched following pressure.

But resident Robin Parker, who has campaigned heavily against the plans, still remains concerned following that meeting.

“I remain convinced that the options have not been looked at in any open minded way. No site is perfect, but others have been dismissed very quickly,” he said.

“At the meeting, at no point did he [Mr Donovan] say comments were welcomed or that they would help. It was very clear to everybody that his mind was made up, and the meeting was just a way of going through the motions.” He added: “Two days after the consultation finishes, before a proper report can be prepared, the education panel meets. Clearly, the report for that will be prepared before the consultation ends.”

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After the meeting, a spokesman from the county council said: “The county council started a new six-week public consultation because it is listening to residents’ views. We felt there was still some concern among residents after the first round of consultation and, in order to ensure that everyone had the chance to have their say, we took the unusual step of consulting again.

“This six week public consultation is the first of five statutory stages and no decisions have yet been made.”

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