Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Selling School Land For Housing Stinks!

Pressure On School Places Ignored In Land Sale
News that the Department for Education has bought the Crescent Road site from the University of West London, allocated some of it for a 14-19 University Technical College, and sold the rest to a housing developer who intends cramming up to 60 flats on the site, has infuriated local residents and councillors.

Reading Council has previously allocated the whole site for educational use and wanted to see an 11-19 school there to help meet the growing shortage of school places in East Reading.

But Michael Gove is not interested in listening to local people, nor to local Councils, but is just pushing his own narrow dogmas. A 14-19 school is not what Reading needs, and in fact the school he is forcing onto our land is not even intended to serve Reading but has a catchment far beyond the Borough’s boundaries. He has grabbed so many powers we probably can’t stop him doing this, but will obviously work to try and get the maximum benefit out of this scheme for Reading children.

My colleague  John Ennis, Lead Councillor for Education is right to say

“It is typical of Michael Gove that having seized the land for what he wants, he has not even asked whether the rest of it is needed for educational purposes. But we know how great the shortage of places in Reading is becoming, and, now we know what Michael Gove has done, I have asked officers to look urgently at ways in which we can make best use of the remaining land to help education in Reading, which is what it is allocated for in our local plans.

The public too—I would be happy for local people to send me their ideas at John.Ennis@reading.gov.uk. We will obviously want to consult local people on the options we come up with, and will be calling a public meeting as soon as possible. It’s our job to stand up for Reading and for Reading parents and that’s what we will be doing.”

The next time the Lib Dem / Tory coalition talks about Olympic legacies and the health of our children, ask them why they are happy to sell off land set aside for school places and green spaces for housing.

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