New St Albans primary school gets green light from Government
A NEW primary school will open its doors in St Albans city centre next September after Government backing was announced on Monday.
Alban City School can now forge ahead with plans to make opening the school on Hatfield Road in September 2012 a reality.
The announcement was made by the Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove who gave the green light to 79 schools across the UK to open at the start of the next school year.
The school will be located in the former School of Law, a building previously owned by the University of Hertfordshire. The two-form entry will offer an extended school service before and after school to assist parents working.
Leader of the district council, Cllr Julian Daly, said: “This is very good news. There’s a huge need for places in the St Peter’s ward and this is only going to increase over the next few years, but there’s been no school for them to go to.
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“It’s the perfect site for an urban school and with a bit of intelligence the transport problems can be overcome. I have asked officers to look at creating free spaces on Bricket Road so that kids can be dropped off.
“People who cite traffic as a problem need to be more specific about what these are so that we can see what measures can be taken to overcome them.”
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Anne Main MP welcomed the good news. She said: “So many parents have written to me about their concerns regarding school places in the city centre and this school is exactly what they need.
“I’m very supportive of the school and I think their proposal is very impressive.”
Lib Dem County Cllr for central St Albans, Chris White, said that despite the handful of naysayers, “common sense had prevailed.”
He said: “I have been campaigning for a new primary school in central St Albans for over five years and am delighted that at last we are seeing action. Parents can be assured that in 2012 there will be more school places in a central location – and so they won’t have to drive their children past oversubscribed primary schools in order to get their children educated.”
He admitted that there were still some practical issues to resolve but congratulated the county and district council for supporting the school which represented something many had wanted for a very long time.
Cllr White added: “I don’t think the free school process is the most sensible way to provide new schools – after all the DfE knows nothing about St Albans and these decisions should be left to local councils. Nevertheless, a school is a school and this is brilliant news for the city centre.”
There have been many who opposed the proposal on the basis that the site was not appropriate.
Lib Dem Cllr Rod Perks has criticised the proposal for its lack of foresight from the start.
Concerns about traffic around the site and the effect this would have on those travelling into the city prompted him and Cllrs Melvyn Teare and Robert Donald to stage a protest when the school held a public consultation earlier this year.
While never against the creation of an additional primary school they argued that the process lacked transparency and the location was entirely wrong for the city.
Cllr Perks said: “I consider this to be a bad day for democracy. This decision has been taken without any pretence at consultation and whilst such events are probably commonplace in countries like Russia and Zimbabwe it still astonishes me that it can happen in the 21st Century in a city like St Albans.”
He accused the county council of being “no friend to St Albans” because of the way it had behaved and said they appeared to be “reneging upon their promise to give serious consideration” to establishing a school on the site of the old fire station.
Alban City School is hoping to hold several open days in the coming months. To find out more about the school visit www.albancityschool.org.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org