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Divided opinions over city school expansion plans
School expansion plans are the focus of a fierce debate, with opponents claiming children will be crammed into a playground “like livestock”.
Brighton and Hove City Council wants to expand both Stanford Infants in Highcroft Villas, Brighton, and Aldrington CE Primary in Eridge Road, Hove, by one form of 30 children for every year group.
It claims the move, which would be introduced from September, is necessary to cope with a rising number of children in the west and south of the city.
A petition of 500 signatures is supporting the expansion of Stanford Infants.
However, 800 parents and locals have opposed the plans claiming it will lead to the school becoming overcrowded.
They claim the consultation has been rushed and worry what will happen to pupils when they are supposed to leave for junior school.
Heather Tomlinson, the council’s director of children’s services, said: “It is felt that without an expansion parents who have very young children not yet at the school may have to travel some considerable distance across the city to access a school place.”
But parent Sophie Lewis, of Chanctonbury Road, Hove, said: “It’s a very small school – anyone can see that when they visit the site.
“You would not be able to get livestock in the playground.
‘Overcrowded’ “I believe if they have an extra 90 children in there, it would be the most overcrowded school in the country in terms of outside space.”
A consultation on the plans was launched in October.
Opinion is split on the plans for Aldrington CE Primary with a slight majority of the 27 responses supporting it.
However, of 192 responses to the Stanford plan, 162 were against. The governors are also against it claiming the consultation has been rushed.
Conservative councillor Andrew Wealls said: “The Green administration has left us very little choice whilst it has refused to engage with the government to access new free schools for the city which would have taken some of the pressure off schools like this one. “This is seat-of-the-pants management of the crisis in school places for our children.”
Labour councillor Anne Pissaridou asked where funding for the expansion was coming from, adding: “This chaotic approach to consultation will simply lead to more uncertainty for parents when their children are ready to move on and backs the junior school into a corner over agreeing to expansion.”
A decision is due to be made at the council’s children and young people committee on Monday at Hove Town Hall at 4pm.