Parents fight school merger plan

CAMPAIGNING parents fighting plans to merge a school will this week take their protest to the steps of Suffolk County Council where a stack of plates and postcards will be handed over to key politicians.

Laurence Cawley

CAMPAIGNING parents fighting plans to merge a school will this week take their protest to the steps of Suffolk County Council where a stack of plates and postcards will be handed over to key politicians.

Jane Storey, deputy council leader, has agreed to meet parents from Paddocks Primary in Newmarket, which is earmarked for a merger with Houldsworth Valley Primary in the town.

The proposals form part of the council's school organisation review which will take Suffolk from a three-tier to two-tier education authority - with middle schools axed - and the future of Paddocks school will be decided at a council meeting in February.


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Parents are calling the latest protest the “Don't Eat Your Words” campaign, which refers to a pledge made by council leader Jeremy Pembroke that the council would not close a thriving primary school in Newmarket.

Throughout the council's consultation process on the current proposals, the authority has stated it would be merging rather than closing the Paddocks school and insists the quality of facilities offered to pupils would be better than they currently have.

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However, parents fear the loss of their successful school's distinct identity and further travelling distances for pupils.

Campaign leader Louise Hamilton said children would be colouring plates with the words “don't eat your words” for council cabinet members. Parents will be writing messages on postcards which, with the plates, will be shared between eight separate boxes and given to each of the council's eight cabinet members.

“I think everyone here believes we have got a real chance of winning this,” Mrs Hamilton said. “We are not going to relent on this. If the decision goes against us we will continue our fight.”

Mrs Storey said she was looking forward to meeting the parents. She added no decisions had yet been taken by the county council.

“They will be meeting me at Endeavour House in Ipswich and I am very much looking forward to it. I will be standing in for Mr Pembroke because he is not available on the day. I understand I will also be presented with artwork by the children which I am very much looking forward to seeing.”

The county council's cabinet will meet on February 5 to decide the matter.

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