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School growth plans rejected in Brighton
2:50pm Wednesday 16th January 2013 in News
Children will have to travel up to two miles to lessons after plans to expand an infant school were halted.
Proposals that would have seen an extra 30 pupils join Stanford Infant School each year have been stopped by opposition councillors on Brighton and Hove City Council.
The expansion plans were an effort by the Green administration to tackle the growing school places crisis in the city. But they were thrown out after Labour and Conservative groups joined forces to outvote the Greens.
The school will now not be able to expand in time for next year but could be considered for expansion again in 2014.
Meanwhile, children will have to journey to Coombe Road Primary School or West Blatchington Primary School, some two miles away, as they are likely to be the closest schools with free spaces.
Labour and Conservative coun- cillors said the decision to stall the expansion plans was needed after a site visit revealed how the Brighton school was limited in space.
One parent, Sophie Lewis, had already expressed her worry additional children would lead to the school becoming a “massive entity” which would be “bulging at the seams”.
She said: “Will it be like Ryanair where you are packing them in?”
Labour councillor Anne Pissaridou said: “An overcrowded school or an overcrowded playground is not in the interests of any child. The entire space is not adequate.”
Green councillors accused her and Conservative members of using the issue for political gain.
Green member Ruth Buckley said: “I am really disappointed. You are using school education as a political football and I am disgusted.”
The proposals had already proved controversial, with a petition of 500 people in favour and another 600 people against them. The school’s governors were also against the plans, having claimed the consultation was “rushed”.
Officials hope the Ministry of Defence can be persuaded to release land next to the school next year so it can be expanded in time for September 2014.
Separate plans to expand Aldrington C of E Primary School to allow an extra 30 pupils a year to go there were agreed. That issue will now continue with statutory notices issued and the matter to be discussed at full council.