Hitchin school expansion plans to be discussed
PLANS to double the size of a primary school are racing ahead, despite protests from residents and parents.
Councillors at County Hall will decide whether to proceed with a consultation over plans to double the size of Samuel Lucas School in Hitchin, at a cabinet meeting this morning (Monday).
Its education panel has already approved plans.
Campaigners, who have accused councillors of ignoring resident’s opinions, have already held an emergency meeting – chaired by county councillor Derrick Ashley – with more than 100 people turning out to voice their concerns over the expansion plans.
Resident Robin Dartington said: “It’s a pity that they have given approval after finally getting quite a lot of local comment.
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“It calls into question whether it’s really worthwhile for local people to say anything if they [councillors] prefer the opinion of a handful of officers. We will have to continue to object in order to protect the neighbourhood.”
There are claims that residents have not been consulted properly, and that an expansion would cause highways and safety issues.
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A consultation – which was restricted – showed that only 22 per cent agreed with the proposed expansion. Two-thirds of those surveyed disagreed with the plans.
“Herts County Council needs to remember that councils are of the people, for the people, and need to remain with the people – and be open to their views,” added Mr Dartington.
“Other schools should be considered urgently for providing extra school places for next September. Oughton Primary seems very suitable and is only eight minutes walk away.
“The thrust of the story is not that the county council is trying to provide more school places, but that it has been blinded along the way that this is not the most suitable site.”
Herts country council said that, if those proposals were approved today, a further four-week consultation would be held, and a final decision made by full council late in November.
Frances Button, Cabinet member for education and skills, said: “There continues to be a real and pressing need to provide primary school places in the area, and we are committed to providing places, wherever possible near where children live.
“The expansion of this popular and successful school is in a location which meets local need. Without extra places, very young children may be forced to travel considerable distances to go to school.