‘Civic bullying’ claims over Napsbury Section 106 funds

Sandringham School

Sandringham School - Credit: Archant

A proposal to divert developer contributions from a major housing estate into a school five miles away was described as ‘civic bullying’ this week.

London Colney parish chair, Cllr Malcolm MacMillan, presented a 1,300-signature petition to this week’s full meeting of Herts county council protesting against the transfer of Section 106 money from the Napsbury development being used to fund additional places at Sandringham School in St Albans.

The situation came to light in January after a county council education panel gave the go-ahead to the £2.7 million expansion of Sandringham School and nearly £1.2 million was promised from contributions paid by the developers of the the Napsbury scheme which would normally have been expected to be spent on schemes in and for the benefit of residents of London Colney.

Less than one per cent of children in the village go to Sandringham and its expansion is to provide extra places primarily for children in Wheathampstead who have been squeezed out of the three Harpenden secondary schools.

Presenting the petition on Tuesday, Cllr MacMillan said: “There is a massive sense of injustice over this matter and I’m bound to say that the issue does not stop here, unless there is a return of the money that has been siphoned off for a project that does not give any advantage to London Colney secondary students.”

He went on:“The strategy used by the county council feels like civic bullying. It’s as though you’re saying ‘we’re taking your money away because we’re bigger and we can, and you smaller parish people will just have to put up with it’.

“Your strategy for dealing with public dissent is consistently disrespectful. It is matched only by a decision of the transfer of S106 money that is quite shocking and detrimental to the young people of London Colney.”

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Cllr MacMillan added: “We hope you will mend your ways as a response to this petition.”

After the meeting, he said a London Colney resident had referred the issue to the Local Government Ombudsman alleging maladministration and the county council still had a week to respond to the issue.