Last chance saloon for Stansted school option

TIME is running out for residents to decide on whether a central primary school should be moved to a bigger site on a housing estate near the outskirts of town.

Teachers and parents from St Mary’s CE Foundation Primary in Stansted have been told they have a ‘golden opportunity’ to up sticks and build a new larger school on the Foresthall Park estate.

However, if a decision is not made quickly, the millions of pounds allocated for the project will be lost in Government cuts.

Last Thursday, parents, residents and teachers poured into the school’s hall to hear what the move may mean for the future.

Essex county council’s cabinet member for education, Cllr Stephen Castle, answered questions on the project – although he was forced to start with an apology.

“Reflecting back, the consultation has not been dealt with in the right way so far. We are sorry for that,” he said.

“We wanted to do it again and get a broader sense of the views. Previous meetings have not been as effective as they could’ve been – but this is a vital part of the decision making process.”

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He is keen to ensure the plans go ahead, but residents in the town are concerned over access to the new school and what will happen to the current site in St John’s Road.

Although �740,000 is available to improve pathways, cycleways and roads, the sum falls well short of enough to widen a railway bridge to make the one-mile walk safer.

Known as ‘wing mirror bridge’, the area of Church Road is narrow and has been branded a “real danger” by residents concerned about children stepping into the road.

St John’s Road resident Richard Shervington said: “It is a major problem. I have had to mount the pavement to make way for buses. My car has scratches down one side.”

Unhappy with the consultation process, he added: “I have lived here for 50 years and I was not told about the meeting – it’s a disgrace. We have the right to our point of view. If the school moves I will see more houses built right next to mine.”

With time running out the consultation has already moved forward at pace and a decision should be made just after July 15.

Cllr Castle has the backing of the school’s governors and many of the parents who are eager for a bigger and better school.

Chairman Tracey Harrison said: “I live near the new site and have spent nine years walking the opposite way with my children without getting run over.

“If parents manage it now, there should be no problems. The walk will just be the other way around, instead of people walking into town they will walk out.”

She added: “We want what is best for the children and we are fully committed to having a new school building. The site to put it on will be decided following the consultation.”

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