Parents highlight increasing demand on Adur schools

A £250,000 contribution from housing developers could be ring-fenced for a school in Shoreham.

Tuesday, 20th December 2016, 2:57 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 3:19 pm
Mr Lawrence Laughlin, head teacher at Swiss Gardens Primary, Max, 6, Mia 9 with father Alastair Reid, FAST campaigner

At a meeting last Thursday, Adur council agreed to look into the suggestion from a parent campaign group.

Father of two Alastair Reid, a member of Future Adur Schools Team, said the council’s ‘positive’ response was ‘as good an outcome as we could have expected’.

But he added that the issue was just one ‘battle’ in a ‘war’ to ensure long-term strategies to cope with increasing demand for school places are put in place.

The 44-year-old of Victoria Road said he was motivated to act after Swiss Gardens Primary School, which is built on a ‘tiny, landlocked site’, was ‘forced’ to take on three classes per year, leaving ‘just no space’ and children, including his ten-year-old Mia and six-year-old Max, ‘literally bouncing off the playground walls’.

Research by the 250-strong parent group has found that, while Adur Council has committed to building 500 new homes in Shoreham and thousands more across Adur, West Sussex County Council have ‘completely underestimated the capacity of the schools’ to cope with the resulting educational demand – said Mr Reid.

In order to combat the ‘nightmare’ situation at Swiss Gardens, he and others are calling for the quarter of a million pound section 106 money – given by developers to mitigate impacts on infrastructure – from Ropetackle North developers to go towards providing facilities at the school.

He added that all too often, this section 106 money given to the county council ‘disappears’ with the council being ‘very opaque’ as to where it goes.

He wants the money to go directly towards ‘the most local school to the development’.

Head teacher Lawrence Caughlin told the council the funds could help convert part of the Meads into a sports facility, which would be of ‘major benefit to the school’.

At the meeting, councillor Neil Parkin said that requesting the county council earmark the money ‘would seem reasonable’, adding that the council was ‘happy to commit’ to improving the school’s facilities.

A county council spokesperson said: ““We have been working closely with Adur and Worthing councils in relation to the Ropetackle North development and believe that the Section 106 funding could be directed to Swiss Gardens Primary as the nearest school in the area.

“Money must be spent on projects which specifically mitigate the impact of development – additional classrooms and other expansion programmes for example.

“It must also be spent in the area the development occurred.

“We will continue to work closely with our schools and councils in order to assess the current and future needs for school places in the region.

“Our planning department closely monitors all Section 106 spending and produces a detailed annual report for the local district and borough councils in order for us to be held accountable.

“This information can be provided on request.”

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