04:10PM, Tuesday 20 June 2017
Desperate parents hoping to see an oversubscribed primary school expand had their hopes dashed last night (Monday).
As councillors gathered for the beginning of an extraordinary meeting to discuss the Borough Local Plan last night (Monday), council leader Simon Dudley (Con, Maidenhead Riverside) announced the Conservative Group had voted against expanding Lowbrook Academy.
Parents at the school have been campaigning for the funding since it was announced the school, in The Fairway, would only be taking 30 students next year, instead of 60.
Cllr Dudley confirmed a vote would take place by secret ballot at a Conservative Group meeting, held before the extraordinary meeting, and he would be recommending it for approval.
Last night parents stormed out of the extraordinary meeting after he said the group had not voted in favour of expansion.
He said he did not anticipate the group decision, but a report would be published today (Tuesday) and discussed at full council next Tuesday for a formal decision.
In a statement released today, Dominique Du Pré, the school's chairman of governors, said; “Naturally we are extremely disappointed following the result of yesterday’s private Conservative Group vote. However, next Tuesday remains an important date for Lowbrook Academy as the full council will meet to decide whether additional funding will be made available to progress the proposed Lowbrook Academy expansion.
“We continue to champion the needs of this community and to lobby the support of elected members; it is now in the hands of the full council to vote to back this build.”
A report about the expansion was published on the borough website today, stating the total project cost is likely to be £2,475,500, which is an increase of £775k.
It states the council originally agreed a budget of £1,600,000 and £200k contingency which would allow the school to become a two-form entry.
Last week, parents at the school met with Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss the funding issue.
Speaking at the meeting last night, Craig Monks, a parish councillor and parent, said: “Tonight not only were the children of Lowbrook let down. This change in policy now sets the new order for every school expansion vote. All schools will be at risk. The situation has also insulted the importance of an opposition within the Borough and left the Prime Minister looking very foolish.”
The council will discuss the report on Tuesday at the Town Hall at 7.30pm.
Visit www.rbwm.gov.uk to read the officers report.
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