Local residents in the Croft Area have been trying to understand what is driving the need for an additional Primary School in Old Town since Swindon Borough Council first announced plans to the Public in September 2010. Our attempts to engage with our Ward Councillors Bawden , Mattock and Foley have been either rebuffed or dismissed throughout therefore we had no option but to escalate our concerns to SBC’s Council Leader R Bluh.
Residents’ experience of engagement with our elected representatives has been shocking and our perception is that we are either being bullied or ignored. The message we are receiving is that Swindon Borough Council has spoken and how dare Residents ask questions. Dictatorship or Democracy?We are a group of Local Residents who are simply asking their Local Council for evidence of the need for an additional School in the area in which we live. Why are SBC so afraid to talk to us?
Using SBC’s own data our analysis shows that SBC’s business case for an additional, 420 Pupil Primary School in Old Town does not add up. As a consequence, Local Residents invited SBC to a formal meeting on 13 July 2011 to explain the numbers and convince Residents of this need for an additional school. On July 13 Councillor Bluh declined the invitation and issued a statement (shown at the meeting) to the effect that due diligence and scrutiny had been satisfied and all was open and transparent. We have looked for but cannot find evidence that the Croft School Proposal has been scrutinised by Swindon Borough Council. Perhaps Councillor Bluh can assist?
Since our July 13 meeting residents have continued to ask for a formal meeting with SBC to discuss the Croft School Proposal as major concerns remain. Our MP, MrBuckland , has been working on Residents’ behalf to try to arrange this withlittle success to date. However, it would now appear that SBC have taken the approach of using the local media to deride and dismiss Residents’ concerns rather than engage directly with us.Is this propaganda?
The July 18 Advertiser published ‘GROWING NEED FOR PLACES AT SCHOOL’ in which:
Councillor Renard states ‘in the last few years we’ve had to locate Children from Old Town in West Swindon’
Didn’t SBC agree with Angel Ridge Developers that there were sufficient places in existing Old Town Schools for children from this area? Doesn’t standard SBC Admissions Policy state a child, not achieving their preference, is placed in the nearest available school?
Councillor Renard states … ‘ Croft is Vital .. ‘
Has Councillor Renard forgotten about the East Wichel School, a brand newPrimary School which opened in 2010 in the Old Town Area? For the last year, this school has operated from a temporary base on the Croft Site offering facilities for 60 Reception Places. We believe the School year began with 3 and ended with 15 Pupils and that the 420 Pupil Permanent School also has extensive spare capacity for 2011.Hasn’tSBC predictedongoing capacity citing 190 spare places in 2013/14?
If the Croft is Vital then where are the statistics to support this?
Councillor Renard states…’ relying on long term projections for school places…. would be a dangerous assumption…’
Doesn’t SBC rely on Long Term Projections to forecast 2021 needs?SBC’s basis for the Croft School Proposal is long term projections.
In response to Councillor Bluh’s July 20 2011 letter to the Advertiser:
‘what matters most to me is we secure the best education for our children’.
Local residents echo these statements and in addition would state that we all share a duty to ensure that tax payers’ money is spent in the right place and that children can travel safely to and from school.
Councillor Bluh also writes..
‘…you only have to look at the challenges we (SBC) are facing in Old Town to see how difficult it is to build a new school. …. those living near any proposed site are often ready to fight tooth and nail to stop one from being built….. ‘
The Croft is sited in a unique location in that it is amid old and narrow streets, close to busy arterial roads and a height restricted bridge. To date the Croft has co-existed with a Sports Centre & Playing Fields, the Marriott Hotel, Intel and 200 Homes. The opening of the Temporary East Wichel School within the Croft Site in September 2010 and attendance of just 15 pupils highlighted Residents’ concerns regarding increased traffic to the site.
The introduction of a 420 Pupil school on the Croft Site is a disaster waiting to happen. The combination of lorries, cars, cyclists, pushchairs, small children and parents creates a potentially toxic mix. Help us to ensure that if additional schools are needed they are built in the right area and children can travel there in safety.No-one wants to have cause to say ‘We told you so’.
Croft Area Residents continue to offer an open invitation to Swindon Borough Council to discuss the Croft School Proposal.
It has come to Residents’ notice that SBC plans to break ground for the Proposed Croft Primary School on the Croft Site on October 2 2011. The Croft School Proposal, Planning Application S/SP/11/0884, has not yet been to SBC’s Planning Committee. The Proposal shown to Residents’ on June 9 2011 and the Planning Application are not the same. The Planning Application is incomplete and Residents are reliably advised would have been refused had a Private Developer submitted it in this condition.
Objections to Planning Application S/SP/11/0884 should be sent to in writing to Helen McCabe at Swindon Borough Council by July 29 2011.
Croft Area Residents