THE decision to approve the site for a free school in Woolston has been challenged by party backbenchers.
Conservative and Labour officials will review Warrington Borough Council executive board’s approval of a site at Hillock Lane after ‘bullying’ from the Department for Education. A formal offer will be made for Michael Gove, education secretary, to attend.
Clr Lottie Ladbury (LAB - Poulton South) led calls for the review.
She said: “What is absolutely clear to me is that for over two years we have been working up plans to provide decent educational facilities for 200 of our most disabled children, but these plans now seem to be under threat by the pressure being put on the executive board by the Dfe, who have effectively said, if we don’t grant them planning permission they will take away the land we desperately need to locate the new Special Educational Needs school.”
On May 22 the executive board agreed to accept a planning application for Kings School Woolston to set up on the playing fields at Hillock Lane.
A temporary home at Bruche Primary School was also given the green light, but Town Hall bosses said they had been forced to accept the proposals or face losing buildings at Woolston High School, pledge for special needs provision.
Free schools are an education model pushed by Tory and education secretary Michael Gove, but Clr Paul Kennedy (CON Hatton, Stretton, Walton) is backing the call-in.
He said: “If people are doing the right thing, irrespective of political affiliation, I’m happy to support that.
“The executive board decided under some degree of duress.
“We want to say to the Dfe, don’t jeopardise plans for our most vulnerable children.”
Clr Sheila Woodyatt (Lymm CON) is also behind the review.
She said: “The scheme that we have got for our Woolston site for our special (needs) children is absolutely fantastic.
“It is the best thing that has happened to the special children in Warrinton in living memory.
“It’s absolutely diabolical the Dfe is taking the view that we can make you let us have the site.”
The call-in meeting will take place next Wednesday, June 13 in the Town Hall at 6.30pm.