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Decision on expansion of Paulton school to be decided after consultation

By Somerset Guardian  |  Posted: February 21, 2013

  • Parents and children who are opposed to Paulton Infants and Juniors schools expanding

  • Councillor Dine Romero

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Parents are stepping up their opposition to controversial plans to expand Paulton's infant and junior schools following a decision by councillors to press ahead with the next stage of the scheme.

Villagers attended a meeting last week at which Bath and North East Somerset councillors agreed to issue statutory notices which will trigger a four-week consultation period before a decision is made on whether expansion should go ahead.

It is anticipated that the notices will be published next Thursday with the consultation period ending on Wednesday, March 27. A report will then go to a meeting of the cabinet on Wednesday, April 10.

Councillors want the consultation to involve not only prospective and existing parents but also neighbouring residents and villagers.

Families have already set up a Facebook page called Paulton Schools Expansion Action Group but are now creating a paper petition as well as an e-petition. A double-side leaflet will also be going to homes in the village giving people an opportunity to register their views before sending it to the council.

They are also planning to lobby North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg at his next surgery in the village.

A planning application for a three-classroom block at the school has been withdrawn by the council following concerns from parents over traffic and parking problems. The school is approached by small residential roads and there are fears that proposals will lead to traffic chaos.

Parent Rachel Rayner said: "I know what it is like to walk my son to school every day. It is only a matter of time before there is an accident on the corner."

B&NES wants to see both schools expand to cope with increasing birth rates and the extra number of pupils expected to come from new housing developments in the village.

Under the expansion plans the infant school would grow from 179 to 270 places and the junior school from 240 to 360 places.

Council cabinet member for early years, children and youth, councillor Dine Romero, told the cabinet that she had met parents and most of their concerns seemed to centre around planning and highways issues, so the application had been withdrawn for the time being to address those concerns.

Mrs Romero told councillors that the first of the extra spaces at the schools would be needed in September and this was one of the reasons the proposals were moving forward quickly.

She rejected building another school in the village saying there was no funding for such a project and not enough pupils.

Mrs Romero said that while parents might be concerned about the schools becoming too big and losing their community feel there were advantages to a larger school.

She said: "I suggest that having a large school does not mean that children get a less good education but it can mean access to a better education with access to more clubs and more support."

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