Labour activists and campaigners have clashed over a proposed school closure in the run-up to a council by-election.

Parents calling for St Peter’s Community Primary School in Portslade to remain open protested as Labour campaigners gathered to canvass ahead of the South Portslade by-election on Thursday.

The by-election has been triggered by the sudden resignation of long-standing Labour councillor Les Hamilton, who had served residents of the ward for more than 50 years.

Protesters confronted Labour campaigners outside Portslade railway station ahead of their “super Saturday” campaign event on Saturday (January 6).

One councillor, Joy Robinson, who represents Labour in Central Hove, was seen in one video being questioned by a parent before leaving the conversation.

“I’m actually not going to continue this conversation, thank you,” she is heard saying.

Kirsty Moore, a parent who has children at St Peter’s with special educational needs, said: “I’m highly disappointed in the neglect and lack of compassion from Labour. They can’t just drop bombshells and not show any remorse for their actions or breaking party pledges.

“Children are suffering and families are struggling to find suitable places to adequately meet their children’s needs - we will not forget this.”

Emily Brewer, also a parent of St Peter’s school, said that families with children at the school feel “let down” by Labour, saying they were voted in on a promise of “keeping schools open” at the local election last year.

She said: “Labour councillors have made it clear that it’s about the budget but won’t listen to the underlying issues, like excluding the nursery school and West Sussex students from the proposal, how there are limited surplus places available and oversubscribed special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) schools in the area.

“Labour refuses to apologise for breaking party pledges. Labour said they would listen but the only interest they have is monopolising the council by bringing in a candidate that doesn’t live or work in the South Portslade area.”

Councillor Jacob Taylor, deputy chairman of the council, said: “We understand that there are strong views about the current set of proposals relating to primary schools and we absolutely respect and defend the right to protest.

“These proposals were not made lightly, and reflect the significant demographic changes in the city, and consequent crisis in school funding and viability.

“If this decision were taken, we believe all pupils at St Peter’s could be placed in Brighton and Hove schools in the Portslade area.

“As some pupils who attend St Peter’s live over the city boundary in West Sussex, we have also spoken to West Sussex County Council and will continue to work with them to ensure a space for all pupils at nearby schools.”

Voters in South Portslade will go to the polls on Thursday to elect their new councillor. The candidates are; Danny Booth (Green Party), Benjamin Franks (Conservative Party), Jamie Gillespie (Independent), Josh Guilmant (Labour), David Maples (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition), Georgia McKinley-Fitch (Democratic Liberation Party) and Kenneth Rist (Liberal Democrats).