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Motion over school places is defeated at Telford & Wrekin Council meeting

Telford | Education | Published:

A motion calling for a plan to make sure there are enough places for schoolchildren in Telford and Wrekin in the future was thrown out by councillors.

A notice of motion was put forward by opposition councillors at a Telford & Wrekin full council meeting on Thursday night, but it was defeated in a vote.

It called for Telford & Wrekin Council to give an "urgent and detailed report as to how new secondary school provision will now be funded" following the closure of the council's Building Schools for the Future programme.

Telford & Wrekin Council has previously said it is prepared to meet the need for school places in the future and is working on a number of projects in areas of the borough where a shortage may be identified.

However, Councillor Stephen Burrell, ward member from Edgmond & Ercall Magna, put forward the motion calling for an urgent inquiry.

It said that the Labour administration’s own report, 'Local Places for Local Children', forecasts a disastrous shortfall in secondary school places in the borough as soon as 2018.

Speaking at the meeting, Councillor Burrell said: "This council has a statutory duty to provide sufficient places to meet demand.

"The paper published by this administration states very clearly that we will fail to meet the statutory duty only 12 months from today."

Councillor Andrew Eade, the leader of the Tory opposition, seconded the motion saying the community had been "failed".

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He said the borough was also running out of special needs places for the most vulnerable pupils.

Councillor Eade added: "We now arrive at the point of how this council is going to get us out of this self-inflicted mess."

But deputy leader of the council, Councillor Richard Overton, said the motion was "misguided".

Telford and Wrekin's finance chief Lee Carter said he could not support the motion and claimed it was "reckless" to suggest that the council would not provide enough school places.

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Education chief Councillor Shirley Reynolds said: "This administration has not let people down."

She said the motion was "scaremongering" and that there was in excess of 1,330 school places available across the borough.

She added: "We have anticipated and planned for the increasing demand."

Earlier this year, the council said that as part of its work in the Building Schools for the Future programme, it had "contingency plans which are designed to increase capacity across the borough as demand either from increased housing or population shifts take place".

It said all of its secondary schools had the capacity to be expanded as need arises, and projects were currently under consideration in north Telford, south Telford, Wellington, Hadley and Newport.

The combined total of the places is in excess of any shortfall identified within the council's school organisation plan, it added.

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