Herts Ad Comment: Why the secrecy over new primary school?

Herts Advertiser comment

Herts Advertiser comment - Credit: Archant

The word ‘consultation’ is one of the most over-used in the current vernacular - everything from small parking changes to major schemes that no-one can influence have to be consulted upon - but when it doesn’t happen at all, it is even more infuriating.

And that is how residents living close to the Lower Field on the former Ariston site in Harpenden Road, St Albans, feel after discovering through the grapevine that on Monday, the county council cabinet could decide to renege on a deal to hand over the Lower Field to the district council for open space and instead earmark it for a new primary school.

No wonder people are incensed - even their county councillor Roma Mills had not been consulted upon it and she is the representative of their interests at County Hall.

It is not as though the county council hasn’t got form on doing this - back in 2013, residents were described as ‘absolutely livid’ at being kept in the dark about the county council’s proposal for a new secondary school on Green Belt land in Harpenden.

At least they got 10 days notice about the county council’s cabinet’s meeting to vote on the issue - for the Friends of Bernards Heath and their supporters, it is going to a county council panel tomorrow and is likely to be ratified on Monday.

Plenty of time to muster opposition then!

While it is easy for the county council to say that it is only proposing to safeguard the site for a two-form of entry primary school should it prove necessary, it is still going against an agreement - in writing or otherwise - that the land would go to St Albans council to remain as open space.

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Compare a noisy new primary school with parents dropping off and collecting their children mornings and evenings with a tranquil green lung in the heart of an urban area - there is absolutely no contest.