10:56AM, Tuesday 15 September 2015
Meetings between campaigners for fair school funding and the Royal Borough ground to a halt last night as frustrated residents handed a list of outstanding questions to the council.
Campaigner Bethan Osborne asked officers to pass on the questions regarding the decision to award £480,000 worth of developer funding to Holyport College to Alison Alexander, director of children’s services, requesting that she reply with a written response.
The controversial decision was passed at full council on April 28, leaving parents at other schools across the borough angered and questioning the decision-making process.
As a result, a group called Fair Funding for Borough Schools was created, which has petitioned the council to revoke the decision and continues to demand answers.
“We really have come to the end of the road with these meetings,” said Mrs Osborne.
“The general view is that these meetings are not helpful for the public or a good use of council time and money.”
Head of education, David Scott, who led the meeting, said he was sorry campaigners felt that way and would discuss the questions with Ms Alexander, who was absent because she was at a meeting with the Department for Education.
One of the key issues campaigners questioned was how the decision was made between March 12 to March 15, when the change from allocating the S106 money to a range of schools to just Holyport College was made.
Victoria Gibson, principal planning officer, said it had been a ‘step-by-step process’.
“On the Thursday (March 12), we were told we could only do one scheme,” she said. “As Alison had prioritised Holyport College, it was that scheme (selected).”
Another campaigner said she had not seen any minuted meetings which explain why the other schools were not selected.
She said: “I cannot see anything which has been written down like that to say why Desborough or other schools in the borough were not considered.
“This is a major decision to award nearly half a million pounds and you have not minuted it.”
Officers were also asked why the council had not gone to all schools to ask them for projects, having contacted Holyport College.
Ben Wright, education planning officer, said: "It is true that we, perhaps, should have contacted the other schools. We know that. We have been clear about that."
Fair Funding campaigners await a response from Ms Alexander.
Cllr Charles Hollingsworth (Con, Pinkneys Green) attended the meeting and asked the panel about the criteria which schools need to meet to receive S106 money.
The Tory councillor, who broke ranks by telling The Advertiser and Express he didn’t agree with the decision, said the criteria that the school should have a ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted report was not met by the Ascot Road School.
“It makes no sense to me,” he said.
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