Wednesday, April 27, 2011

We don’t need no Edjacashun

For some years now Redbridge Council has been desperately short of school places for its growing population of young people. Two new primary schools have been built by the Council, one on the old PLA site in the Drive and one in Winston Way. A new Academy type secondary school is planned for the Cricklefields site in central Ilford. But that is not enough, the demand keeps on outstripping supply.

As reported earlier the Ilford Jewish Primary School in Craven Gardens is planning to move to the King Solomon site and the vacated school site is the subject of three bids to open an additional Primary School there for which we eagerly await the decision of the Schools Adjudicator. One of those bids is for a community school submitted by Redbridge Council, but it will be their last. Since last November, when the bids were submitted, the government has changed the rules. Local Authorities cannot now provide any schools at all, despite being legally required to provide schooling for all the children within its boundaries. Any new schools will now be so-called “free schools” provided by Charities or Educational Trusts supported by the private sector.

This is why the council have agreed “in principle” to sell the Downshall Centre to E-Act, headed up by Sir (£265,000 p.a.) Bruce Liddington to open a new primary school there. The Downshall Centre was closed as a school many years ago because the building and grounds did not meet government standards and a new school was built opposite. When questioned on this at the Cabinet meeting on 22nd March the Cabinet member replied that “free schools” are not subject to the same regulations. The “Big Society” voluntary groups who had used that centre are now unsure of their future.

What I didn’t mention at the time was that at that same Cabinet meeting there was also a delegation from the residents of Five Oaks Lane, Hainault, opposing the compulsory purchase of their homes. [item 8] This is to make way for a new development of 425 homes on designated green belt land and including shops and a community centre – but no school.

As reported last week the site of the former New Mossford School, now closed and demolished, on the Barnado’s site is to be redeveloped for housing - although we don’t know how many I would guess somewhere near 200.

And then we have at next week’s Cabinet meeting on May 3rd plans for even more homes on green belt land sneeking through under the disguise of a scrutiny report on Fairlop Plain. “The Working Group recommends that the site of the Barkingside Nursery and the Adolescent Resource Centre is redeveloped for possible low level housing or other uses appropriate to Green Belt and that any sale should be accompanied with agreed planning permission. All revenue for this made [sic!] should be ringfenced for the investment and development of Fairlop Waters.” – but no school.

And so we come full circle. Redbridge council is desperately short of school places already and these new homes will no doubt house even more children. Even if the council had the money, which they do not, to provide new schools, they are not allowed to do so now. Something will have to give, sooner or later.

Here’s Pink Floyd

4 comments:

  1. On Five Oaks Lane the solicitor was representing another property developer who expressed interest in developing the site, not residents opposed to any development at all.

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  2. Thanks, Ian. I have corrected that bit.

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  3. Why is Redbridge even prepared to consider development within the green belt? Whilst the existing homes in Five Oaks Lane are clear there, the planning guidance should be the current total footprint and no more - not even "permitted development. Anything that exceeds that will make Redbridge almost as cavalier towards green belt as Epping Forest District currently are.

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  4. OMG
    Ian spots a mistake and B21 corrects it!

    Perhaps this innovative new concept could be applied by Redbridge Council on the Parks Police report?

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