LETTER: We need a school not homes
I READ with disbelief your article (October 3) headlined "Homes bid as school ditched" and feel strongly enough to email a response, not just to this newspaper but also to Somerset County Council and Tessa Munt.
My point is simple. In recent weeks it has been widely publicised that last year the UK experienced a baby boom. Therefore, it doesn't take a genius to work out that those children will need to be educated in three to four years' time.
The Department for Education has allocated £7.5bn, starting in 2015, to fund school expansion. An extra £10bn will be spent on repairing school buildings that are not currently fit for use. So why, in Somerset County Council's infinite wisdom, have they discharged a condition of C G Fry's Section 106 agreement, to build a primary school at Tadley Acres in Shepton Mallet, thus allowing the developer to submit plans for 40 homes on land reserved for the school?
What were they thinking? It's not as though the properties at Tadley Acres didn't sell and therefore there aren't the families needing this additional resource. SCC obviously felt the need to stipulate a school as part of the planning process at the start, so what has changed? Who in their right mind would turn down the opportunity of a new school among their community, paid from the gains of the developer, rather than waiting on handouts from Central Government?
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OK, some might argue that the ongoing cost of running a school outweighed the benefit – well surely SCC knew the cost involved at the outset, yet it still warranted being included in C G Fry's Section 106.
Even if SCC don't have the funds to support a new school at the present time, it's totally irresponsible of them to let the developer off the hook in this way and therefore failing our community.
Why not let them build the school and let the community run it?
Has anybody considered that option? If not run as a school what about a community centre? My letter to SCC urges them to reconsider their insane decision, I just hope it's not too late.