Saffron Walden: County High has no room for growth

I WAS greatly saddened by Cllr Redfern’s personal “scaremongering” letter last week but have resolved from the start of my campaign to avoid such slurs and to stick only to the facts.

The facts on the County High are as follows:

• Analysis, based on underlying data from the Office of National Statistics, says that the 880 houses UDC wants to build in Saffron Walden and the 440 already being built will result in 260 extra 11-16 year olds living in Saffron Walden and needing school places. This is in addition to the 16 more from Great Chesterford;

• The County High School has 1,500 11-16 year olds, and can’t expand any further; Independent studies show that results would likely decline if they did;

• UDC proposals last autumn to build a separate 6th Form college was withdrawn in less than a week; it caused such a scare that the headmaster was forced to write to all parents to make it clear that this was definitely not the case;

If the County High can’t grow, it would seem that the only way to accommodate the schoolchildren from the new houses is to shrink the catchment area. We have been asking UDC for more than six months to tell us about what they propose for education as part of their Local Plan - perhaps UDC could tell us what the plan actually is?

Finally, the letter educates me on the geographic range of my constituency. I am pleased to say that after living in the town and villages for over 40 years, I am very well aware that Essex County Council has ignored not only Saffron Walden Town but its surrounding villages for many years.

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I have written to all of the parish councils in the Saffron Walden county council area offering to come and listen to them, and will be at Chesterford Parish Council on April 10, when I look forward to a robust but non-personal debate.

John Lodge prospective candidate for Essex County Council