Legal challenge threat to schools axe

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save secondary school education in their community are considering a High Court challenge, it has emerged.Worried staff and parents at Clare Middle School revealed they were looking at numerous options - including starting costly judicial review proceedings - in a bid to review education cuts in their town.

Dave Gooderham

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to save secondary school education in their community are considering a High Court challenge, it has emerged.

Worried staff and parents at Clare Middle School revealed they were looking at numerous options - including starting costly judicial review proceedings - in a bid to review education cuts in their town.

Middle schools in Haverhill and Clare will close under Suffolk County Council's shake-up, with Haverhill's two upper schools expanded to provide all secondary school education for the area. It will leave the town with just a primary school.

Jim Meikle, chairman of Clare and Local Area for Rural Education (CLARE), said: “The campaign is as determined as ever. At the end of the day, we feel we have been let down and now just want common sense to prevail for the interests of our children and their educational needs.

“This decision must be reversed with the minimum of fuss to ensure the standards of education in Clare continue to be high.

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“The middle school option appears to have long since gone and we look at that practically and agree that the two-tier system is a good philosophy. But we will now focus all our attentions on campaigning for a rural community college in Clare.”

But Mr Meikle said campaigners would take advantage of the compulsory six-week consultation - between the closure notice being served and the decision finally ratified by the cabinet - to lobby the county council.

He said getting the original decision called-in by a councillor would force Suffolk County Council to reconsider.

The campaigner added: “We will also be seeing whether a judicial review and subsequent High Court challenge would be suitable and I can confirm it is something we are considering. But a crucial factor would be how we could raise the necessary funds.”

Mr Meikle said planned housing developments in the area would place even greater pressure on educational needs - including massive proposals for the villages of Chilton, near Sudbury, and Ashen, in Essex - which he claimed gave greater weight to the calls for a secondary school in Clare.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said the six-week consultation process, which will start after the statutory notice is issued, would give people a chance to have their say on the cabinet's recommendations.

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