Wycombe Labour today accused Bucks County Council of giving up on the principle of providing local primary school places. It also accused Wycombe District Council of complacency in not realising the damage this would cause families and not being prepared to fight for local school places for its children.
Councillor Raja, Labour’s Leader on WDC and a long standing school governor, said “Countless new homes are being built in Wycombe but Bucks County Council refuses to build any new schools.
It is relying on the expansion of existing schools to meet the demand, and even then only if the schools are willing.
Consequently a lot of children will not be able to go to their local school – difficult enough for secondary pupils but damaging for infants who may be expected as a matter of deliberate policy to go to a school on the other side of Wycombe, perhaps 2 bus rides away.
Let me give you an example. When the new development is built on the reserve site at Terriers, there will be close on 1000 new homes on or around this site. Already some children in the area are unable to go to their local primary school.
The BCC cabinet member for education told us that BCC is carrying out feasibility studies at a number of primary schools including Cedar Park, Hazlemere CE and Millbrook schools to accommodate the children from the Terriers reserve site.
Millbrook School is in Sands.
So 5- year-old children living right on the north east of Wycombe will be expected to go to school in the west of Wycombe, 2 bus rides away. This shows a total disregard by BCC for the problems created for families having to cope with a school on the other side of the town for their young children.
The impact of this on the children and their families can be devastating. The children will have to get up earlier, face lengthy journeys to school and are likely to do less well at school as they are tired. They arrive home late, are tired and have less time to spend with their families and friends.
If their parents don’t have a car, and if their brothers or sisters go to different schools, goodness knows how their parents manage. For a single parent, this would be a nightmare.
One of my colleagues asked WDC at the last Council meeting whether it agreed with BCC or was it going to fight for local school places for our children.
The answer? “We are working closely with BCC to achieve the best possible result. During this process we will look at all aspects, including that of school travel.”
So no - WDC will not be fighting for local school places for our children. They haven’t even got round to looking at the issue yet. They’re simply complacent, uncaring and out of touch.”