BRIGHTON and Hove’s secondary headteachers have written to education bosses demanding that they don’t “waste money” opening a free school.

The University of Brighton is planning to open a new school to cope with the demand of rising pupil numbers.

The heads have written an open letter stating that after 2019 – the earliest the new school is likely to be up and running – demand for places will decline, creating excess capacity that will affect each school’s budget.

The letter states: “At a time when sadly so many schools have been compelled by financial pressures to reduce staffing, money would be better used strengthening our existing secondary schools rather than used to build a new school that the city doesn’t need.

“We call on local authority colleagues and local elected representatives to prioritise the needs of all young people in schools across Brighton and avoid wasting money desperately needed by our current schools and their students.”

The open letter is signed by Dorothy Stringer School headteacher Richard Bradford, Brighton Aldridge Community College principal Dylan Davies, Varndean School headteacher William Deighan, Blatchington Mill School headteacher Ashley Harrold, Cardinal Newman Catholic School headteacher James Kilmartin, Patcham High School headteacher John McKee, King’s School headteacher Sarah Price, Aldridge Education South East executive principal Rob Reed, Hove Park School headteacher Jim Roberts, Portslade Aldridge Community College principal Katie Scott, and Longhill High School headteacher Kate Williams.

Difficulties securing a location for the school have delayed plans by around a year.

A decision over whether Brighton and Hove City Council’s favoured site at Brighton General Hospital will be available for the school is not due to be made by the NHS until next spring or summer.

The council said that pupil numbers are set to continue rising beyond 2019, with around 13,000 homes planned to be built across the city before 2030.

Dave Boyle, a member of the parent steering group for the new school, said: “The whole city needs to have the conversation about catchments, not just those areas affected for 2019 and 2020.”

Council statistics show there will be a small amount of surplus school places in 2019 and 2020, but there will be insufficient places in 2021 and 2022.

A council spokesman said: “We have a legal duty to provide school places for every child in the city who wants one. We’re aware that many schools are running at capacity and are unable to expand further. We remain strongly of the view that a new secondary school is needed in the eastern central area of the city.”