LETTER: Laneshaw Bridge new school plan - the facts

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I FEEL compelled to write to you after reading your article “School Plan is Opposed” (Colne Times, January 14th) as many of the facts in last week’s article are wholly inaccurate.

In response to these exaggerated claims:

1) There are 500 vehicle movements each day at the school.

There are 134 families at the school. Even if all of these were to drive to and from school, this would equate to 268 journeys. However, following a survey, it has been found that out of the 48 families that live less than a mile from the school, 23 walk to school and the rest travel by car or car share. About 28 families at school car share occupying 13 cars, and six pupils cycle to school, weather permitting. Even allowing for staff cars, the number of vehicle movements is nowhere near 500 and it should be remembered these are staggered between 7-30 a.m. and 8-50 a.m. and 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to cover breakfast, after school club and after school activities.

2) 75% of pupils live outside the area.

Forty-eight families live less than a mile from school, 47 families live between one and two miles from school, leaving 40 families living over two miles away, not the 75% claimed in last week’s article.

3) There are no alternatives to school other than by car.

See previous comments for figures on the various ways children get to and from school. There is also an hourly bus service along Keighley Road. A revised travel plan is currently being developed and the school holds regular Walk to School weeks.

4) The new school will be 12 times the size of the existing one.

The building itself will be double the size of the existing one. The objectors have compared the minimum size of the present building to the overall size of the proposed site.

5) Three hundred signatures opposing plans and the support for the school are outside the village.

The population of Laneshaw Bridge in 2001 was 759. If this has remained the same over the last 10 years and all signatures are from villagers, this still only equates to 39% opposing the plan. Petition sheets for the “No” campaign have been seen in post offices far and wide and in company offices well outside the village, making it very dubious that all these signatures are from villagers.

For Coun. Tony Greaves to state the school is “fit for village children” seems to me that he has completely missed the point. Schools, whether in rural or urban areas, are open to applications from people who live anywhere. This is government policy and is called parental choice. If parents had wanted to take up places in the other schools to which Coun. Greaves refers, surely they would have applied there. I would also be interested to know how Coun. Greaves knows so much about Laneshaw Bridge Primary when he hasn’t even visited it and I think it is despicable that Colne councillors have decided to oppose these plans without hearing both sides of the story.

The “No” campaign is being fronted by a director of a leading property consultancy. He is better informed of planning regulations and procedures than the supporters for the school and is using this to his advantage. It has also been made very clear by a minority of residents they don’t want a school in the village at all. This is a very selfish attitude as a number will have had children and grandchildren go through the school and now they don’t have a use for it, they don’t want it and don’t want others to benefit from it either.

Laneshaw Bridge Primary has consistently gained excellent results, with Ofsted calling it outstanding in no less than three inspections. The Times placed it eighth in the country for primary schools recently and this year it again topped the league tables for Lancashire for achieving the best Key Stage 2 SATs results.

Estate agents have already commented on the fact these results have meant house prices in the village have increased with demand for the school.

Currently the four higher year groups have to share three classrooms between them. The school hall is of a size where it is unable to accommodate whole-school assemblies without causing health and safety issues. There is no kitchen at the school so the children have to have packed lunches and eat them at their desks. They do not have the option of a hot meal,

In today’s day and age of promoting child welfare and healthy, eating this is prehistoric!

It is a shame that the person fronting the “No” campaign cannot work with the school and the villagers to help come up with a solution that is favourable to both parties as opposed to stirring up bad feeling..

MRS K. CLARK

Hobstones Barn,

Smithy Lane, Colne