Questions raised over 'sham' school move consultation

DOUBTS have been cast over a consultation into the proposal to relocate a secondary school to a new estate. Herts County Council (HCC) plans to move The Thomas Alleyne School from Stevenage Old Town to Great Ashby, as part of the wider Building Schools fo

DOUBTS have been cast over a consultation into the proposal to relocate a secondary school to a new estate.

Herts County Council (HCC) plans to move The Thomas Alleyne School from Stevenage Old Town to Great Ashby, as part of the wider Building Schools for the Future (BSF) scheme.

The BSF programme is set to rebuild, remodel and relocate secondary schools, special schools and education support centres across the county, beginning in Stevenage in early 2011.

But a disillusioned Great Ashby resident, who did not want to be named, has questioned if The Thomas Alleyne School move is already a "done deal" and the consultation "a sham".


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She pointed out that HCC advertised in The Comet on November 19 that representations to the planning application should be made by December 10, but that in the following week's edition of the paper - November 26 - the council announced it had made a compulsory purchase order for the land required to relocate the school.

She said: "The inference is that this is a done deal, making a mockery of both the consultation and North Herts District Council's planning meeting on December 17."

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NHDC will act as a consultee only at the meeting next week, and a decision to grant or refuse the planning application will be made sometime in the future.

"One has to ask if the consultation is just a sham," fumed the angry Great Ashby resident.

"I naively believed that all opinions would get a fair hearing so that the best possible outcome for the Great Ashby community would be found, but sadly I no longer believe that to be the case."

A spokesman for HCC said: "There are two separate statutory processes running in parallel - a planning application and the making of a Compulsory Purchase Order [CPO].

"The scheme can only proceed if HCC achieves both planning permission and a confirmed CPO.

"We need to have both processes running in tandem to meet the Government's timetable for the Stevenage BSF proposals."

The school relocation plans have divided Great Ashby residents.

There are those who oppose the proposal amid concerns of increased traffic and noise, and the loss of Green Belt land.

There are those who support the plans on the grounds the school will be convenient, tucked away, and that there is a need for a school on the northern side of Stevenage.

Great Ashby retailers also hope the relocation will be good for local business.

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