School places

PUBLISHED: 10:41 05 March 2009 | UPDATED: 13:57 06 May 2010

SIR, — Fifty-five children in Harpenden and the villages have no ranked secondary school place. At least 28 of these children — those from Wheathampstead and Harpenden — have been give a place at Francis Bacon, a school on the far side of the district whi

SIR, - Fifty-five children in Harpenden and the villages have no ranked secondary school place. At least 28 of these children - those from Wheathampstead and Harpenden - have been give a place at Francis Bacon, a school on the far side of the district which is in special measures.

As usual Herts County Council will trot out the usual press release about how nearly 93 per cent of Herts gaining one ranked school place. Well that figure doesn't stack up around here. In Wheathampstead the figure is 83 per cent and no parts of the St Albans district reach that figure of 93 per cent that the county council seems so proud of. The appeals panel will be busy again this year, particularly as no human being in their right mind would ask a child to commute two hours a day to school.

As usual the county council will be urging those parents with no ranked school place to sit tight and wait for the "fall out" to reach them. Sorry, but why should they? Is it that parents without a ranked school place have paid less council tax to Herts County Council? No. So what's the second-class citizen treatment all about? It's simply about the fact that the county council can't get its act together enough to recognise that squeezing a quart into a pint pot year after year is incompetent and cruel. Every month I sit on a Harpenden planning committees and see applications for new houses and extensions approved. One of these applications recently was for 68 new homes in Wheathampstead on the site of the former village secondary school. Yet are the county council getting it? No. For as long as I can remember each of the three schools in Harpenden have had 180 places and this figure has stayed the same despite steady infill development in the entire district.

And the icing on the cake is that not only did the county council sell off the secondary school site in Wheathampstead a year ago to a developer for millions, but now that developer wants to build - you guessed it - many more family homes than were originally agreed by outline planning permission. So even more children to compete for those limited school places in Harpenden. Where will it end? What has to happen for the county council to wake up from its 20-year sleep and realise that we no longer have an ageing population but a booming one which has to be planned for.

CLLR JUDY SHARDLOW,

LibDem St Albans District Councillor for Wheathampstead

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