11:11AM, Wednesday 29 July 2015
Shouts of 'shame on you' came from the public gallery at the Royal Borough's full council meeting last night after councillors voted against revoking the decision to award developer funding to Holyport College.
A representative of the Fair Funding campaign was given five minutes to address the council after an online petition, asking the council to revoke the decision, received more than 1,600 signatures.
This was followed by a 30 minute debate from councillors before a vote on the petition, which saw the Royal Borough endorse the decision to make £480,000 of developer funds available to the school in Ascot Road in September, with just three votes against.
These came from Cllr Simon Werner (Lib Dem, Pinkneys Green), Cllr Lynne Jones (Old Windsor Residents Association, Old Windsor) and Cllr Malcolm Beer (Old Windsor Residents Association, Old Windsor).
A speech written by lead petitioner Catherine del Campo was delivered by Lindsey Blake, who said: "The council claims to have already answered our questions, but frankly, we’ve been left with more than we started with."
Mrs Blake, who lives in Windsor, referred to a public meeting held on Monday, July 13 in which director of children's services, Alison Alexander, said requirements for developer funding restricted the council to one or two schools.
She said: "We were first told this requirement came from the planning team because of new pooling rules, then that the developer had made the stipulation and then, that the planning team and the developer had come up with the restriction together.
"It’s difficult to know what to believe, especially as the developer emailed us this week to say, 'The level of contribution and nature of project to be funded was dictated by RBWM, as is normal practice.'"
She added: "It is easy to see why we feel misled."
Mrs Blake's speech also revealed that the changing rooms at the college - which were in the school's asset management plan - were not 'adequate'.
This came from the minutes of a Holyport College Governors' meeting on Thursday, March 19, chaired by Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Riverside).
"We have been told time and time again that this money is being awarded to aid additional expansion but it is now clearer than ever that the changing rooms are nowhere near fit for purpose and that this funding is being used to throw Holyport College a lifeline," said Mrs Blake.
In response, leader of the council, Cllr David Burbage (Con, Bray), said it would not be 'right or fair' that children set to attend the school would not be able to if the decision was revoked.
"I am on the record supporting the expansion to this very popular school, and yes, it is statistically the most popular school."
Cllr Burbage also announced the council would be supporting recommendations for a full review and update of its policies in regards to developer contributions.
This includes reviewing, updating and publishing developer contribution funding policies in line with updated S106 and Community Infrastructure Levy arrangements, and proposing that a proportion of the Borough School Capital Funding be subject to a participatory budgeting exercise with effect from 2016/17.
Cllr Jones, however, proposed that the decision be 'set aside and reviewed in full at the next council meeting' as she felt money allocated to Holyport College was a 'done deal' before the item was put to council.
This was agreed with by Cllr Werner, who also said this was not a 'party political issue' and that even some Conservative councillors felt the decision was wrong.
He said: "Clearly, on the raw numbers, Holyport College is the third most popular school (after Furze Platt School and Newlands Girls' School)."
Ms Alexander said a second public meeting would be held at 6.30pm on Tuesday at Maidenhead Town Hall.
More than 50 street parties are set to take place this weekend across the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and the surrounding areas.
An independent report into a Conservative councillor has found a breach of the Royal Borough’s code of conduct in a document seen by the Advertiser.