Anger at plans to close Nelson primary school

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there has been an angry reaction to proposals to close a Nelson church primary school and relocate it on a new site more than a mile away - in Brierfield.

Lancashire County Council will decide later this month on the future of St Paul’s CE Primary School in Hibson Road - but members of Pendle Council’s Nelson Committee made it clear at their meeting on Monday they were opposed to any closure plans.

The county council is considering building a new primary school on the site of the former Mansfield High School, Brierfield, which would accommodate twice the number of pupils currently at St Paul’s.

Letters have been sent out to parents and governors at the school outlining the proposals - and Coun. Eileen Ansar said: “A lot of people are really upset about this.

“They are talking about moving a church school away from the church.

“There has been no consultation about this and this will destroy the heritage of the area.

“It will also mean putting a lot more traffic on the roads - more than half of the children at the current school walk there but will not be able to if the school is moved.”

Coun. Julie Henderson said: “It is unacceptable to move the school to a site more than a mile away. It will no longer be St Paul’s - it will be in St Luke’s parish.”

She said alternative sites which had been considered in Halifax Road or at Edge End were better and added: “People want their children taught in a family-friendly environment. The community will be wiped away if the school is moved to another town.”

School governor Darren Hendleman said the difficulty faced by the school was that it had been identified as a location for 30 additional pupil places in the Brierfield and Nelson area.

Children were also having to be moved towards Colne because of the lack of places in Nelson, he said.

“The school site is of limited size with very poor facilities for outdoor learning. Part of the school was built in 1972 as temporary accommodation and is still in use. This is eating up more and more resources and we are excited by the thought of a new school. The present site is not sustainable to meet our needs without major financial input which given the current financial climate will not be forthcoming.”

Coun. Richard Smith said it was disgusting Lancashire County Council had not discussed the matter.

“I have people who walk their children from one end of the ward to the other and back - a distance of half-a-mile each way - every day who will be faced with an extra mile to Brierfield.”

Coun. Mohammed Iqbal, who is also a Nelson county councillor, said he would ask County Coun. Susie Charles, Cabinet member responsible for schools, if she would come to Nelson to speak to parents.

Lynn Macdonald, Lancashire County Council’s schools planning and development manager, said a report would go to County Coun. Charles at her next decision-making session on Friday, asking for permission to consult on a proposal to expand St Paul’s by building a new school on the former Mansfield School site.

She added: “It must be remembered we are still at a very early stage in the plans for the school and everyone will have the chance to look at the proposals and have their say.”