Parents quizzed over school dilemma

PARENTS in a Suffolk town are being asked whether they want a new primary school to be built – or whether existing premises should be expanded.Stowmarket's population rose more than 10% between 1991 and 2001, and Suffolk County Council has warned it is leading to rising demand for primary school places.

By John Howard

PARENTS in a Suffolk town are being asked whether they want a new primary school to be built – or whether existing premises should be expanded.

Stowmarket's population rose more than 10% between 1991 and 2001, and Suffolk County Council has warned it is leading to rising demand for primary school places.

It has just started a consultation exercise to ask people their views.

The town is currently served by five primary schools: Chilton, Wood Ley, Abbot's Hall, Comb's Ford, and The Freeman in neighbouring Stowupland.

The options currently being looked at include building a new primary school on a reserved site at the new Cedar's Park estate and expanding The Freeman Primary School.

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Frank Stockley, senior education officer, said: "There is no favoured option. We have a growing housing development on the Cedar's Park site and when that is complete there will be 2,000 homes on there.

"Primary schools are already under a bit of pressure in Stowmarket and they can't meet the anticipated demand.

"The earliest we could provide a new school is September 2006. If the option for redevelopment of the Stowupland site goes ahead there will be a similar timetable – it will need substantial refurbishment and extension of existing buildings.''

Mr Stockley said he anticipated some residents on the new estate may want a school where they live, while in Stowupland some parents could be concerned that they sent their children to a village school and do not want it doubled in size.

The county council has arranged a number of consultation sessions to enable parents and other local residents to give their views.

Last night, one was held at Abbot's Hall primary, tonight they will be at The Freeman, on Thursday at Combs Ford, and on Tuesday January 27, at the Kingsfield Centre in Stowmarket – the former Oakwood School site. They will all be from 6.30pm to 9pm.

Anyone interested should book an appointment on 01284 352121. Appointments last up to 15 minutes and bookings can be made for individuals or small groups. People can also make their views known by writing to the county council at Shire Hall in Bury St Edmunds, by February 27.

A report will go to the county council's executive committee in May stating the outcome of the consultation and the final decision will rest with councillors on the executive.

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