FURIOUS parents have promised to sue the council if plans for changes to secondary school catchment areas are carried out.

Father of two Dave Boyle told councillors that proposals to move areas of Hanover and Elm Grove from the Dorothy Stringer/Varndean catchment area to the Longhill School zone would “guarantee a legal challenge”.

Mr Boyle, speaking on behalf of affected parents, told a meeting of the children young people and skills committee on Monday that pupils deserved better than a catchment system he called “a testament to bad planning and a failure to grasp the situation”.

More than 2,500 people have signed petitions asking the council to rethink or abandon its plans, currently under public consultation, to tweak the catchment areas for two years until a proposed additional secondary school comes on stream.

Mr Boyle, a community group consultant who has helped the Bevy and Greys pubs raise money, told the meeting: “Our concerns are driven by the fact that our children will lose choice and be given a school located far away from the community they live in and splitting their primary school and friendship groups in two.

“I cannot stress enough that at no stage have we been concerned with the quality of the schools our children are to be offered. The city is well served by good secondary schools. We cannot say the same of the catchment system.

“It is a testament to bad planning and the failure to grasp the situation, and more latterly a failure to deliver the central policy of a new school in a timely fashion.”

After conducting their own research using Freedom of Information legislation, parents claim to have discovered a proposal to change catchment areas in a different way, which would have affected affluent areas of Kemp town, was abandoned on anecdotal evidence despite data showing it would have created functional catchment areas.

He said they have also found officers did not properly model the the impact of sibling links.

He called for the plans to be abandoned until the the proposed new secondary school opens in two years’ time.

Mr Boyle, 43, concluded: “We know that the council is fearful of legal challenge if it does do something but we regret to inform you should that something be these proposals, it will guarantee a legal challenge from parents in the areas affected, as we sincerely doubt that they meet the test laid down in the School Admissions Code that catchments be ‘fair, clear and objective’.

“These proposals are trumpeted as enabling greater certainty, but that neglects to state the bald facts: in order to guarantee choice and certainty for the majority, our children are to be denied choice, denied access to schools in their community, denied the chance to go to secondary school with friends in their community, denied the chance to face this most important choice to date in their lives full of hope and expectation and instead contemplate 7am starts and earlier in schools miles away from their friends and miles away from their homes.

“This is not fair; they are kids, not commuters.”

The consultation ends on Sunday.