7,500 sign up to save town schools

CAMPAIGNERS battling to save their schools have handed in a petition with more than 7,500 signatures to the council which wants to close them down.

James Hore

CAMPAIGNERS battling to save their schools have handed in a petition with more than 7,500 signatures to the council which wants to close them down.

Essex County Council is holding a consultation about its controversial plans for overhauling secondary education in Colchester in a bid to improve exam results and halt falling pupil numbers.

Its preferred option of three proposals is the closure of Alderman Blaxill, Thomas Lord Audley (TLA) and Sir Charles Lucas schools with Sir Charles Lucas replaced by a new academy on the same site.


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Pupils within the catchment areas of Alderman Blaxill and TLA would then be redistributed among the five other non-selective secondary schools serving the area.

However, a fourth “community” option has been winning favour with those directly affected which would see Alderman Blaxill and TLA form a federation with the Stanway School.

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Yesterdayschool governors joined Colchester borough councillor Dave Harris, whose ward includes TLA, to hand the petition in at County Hall, Chelmsford.

The move was timed to coincide with the end of the council's consultation period which closes tomorrow.

Mr Harris told the EADT he had been overwhelmed by the response in the area surrounding TLA.

He said: “Lord Hanningfield (leader of Essex County Council) just cannot ignore the strength of passion and public feeling on the number of people that have signed these.

“I was very encouraged by the strength of support and passion at all the meetings.

“We spoke to Peter Martin, deputy leader of the council, and he said the petition demonstrated the strength of support for our case and the community option.”

This week the issue was raised in Parliament by Colchester MP Bob Russell.

He claimed removing the threat of closure, hanging over the schools since last year, would prompt parents to once again send their children to the schools.

However, council leader Lord Hanningfield said: “Change is absolutely necessary and could open the way for significant additional funding - running into millions - which may well not otherwise be made available to Colchester schools.

“Whatever your views, it is important that all residents recognise that the status quo cannot continue and those that pretend otherwise are misleading the public.”

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