Conservatives have slammed the Green Administration on Brighton & Hove City Council for failing to even consider the possibility of establishing a new Primary School on part of the Council’s main HQ – King’s House – which is shortly to be marketed to housing developers.
Conservative Group Leader, Cllr. Geoffrey Theobald, will be moving an amendment to the report giving the go ahead to sell King’s House at this Thursday’s Policy & Resources Committee meeting. He will be proposing that the rear unlisted part of King’ s House be set aside for a desperately needed new 3 form entry Primary School.
Writing on his blog, Council Leader Jason Kitcat, accused the Conservatives of “opportunistically” putting forward our school proposal “at the last moment via press release” and of undermining cross party working. These statements betray Cllr. Kitcat’s complete lack of leadership and control of his party as the Conservative proposal was first put forward by Schools Spokesman, Andrew Wealls, at the Council’s cross-party working group on school places in July at which, all 3 representatives agreed to discuss it with their respective political groups. The Labour Group will be deciding on their position at their Group meeting on Tuesday (10th September).
There is a pressing need for new school places in Hove which the Conservative proposal for King’s House seeks to address. The South/Central Hove zone was short of 168 reception places in September 2013 and this shortage is forecast to rise to 225 places by 2016. Nearby infant and primary schools are heavily oversubscribed. For September 2013 Davigdor Infants’ School received 367 applications for 120 places, St Andrew’s CE Primary received 282 applications for 60 places and West Hove (Connaught) received 343 applications for 120 places. In addition, the projected shortfalls in places in south central Hove take no account of the 400 new homes earmarked in the City Plan for a redeveloped King Alfred Centre and the 600 new homes allocated to the area around Hove Station.
Cllr. Wealls said: “I am frankly disgusted by the Council Leader’s complacent and patronising attitude to the proposal for a new school. I have gone out of my way to try and get cross-party support ever since we floated the idea back in early July. If the Brighton & Hove Green Party is so dysfunctional that it can’t even bring itself to discuss such a fundamental issue as the school places crisis then they are not fit to govern this city. I hope that the Labour Party will join with us on Thursday to help deliver the new school that the children of Hove so desperately need.”
Cllr. Theobald added: “If Cllr. Kitcat doesn’t want to use part of King’s House for a new Primary School then he needs to come clean with parents in Hove and tell them exactly where their children will be educated. We accept that our proposal would result in a smaller capital receipt for the remainder of King’s House but the lack of school places has become critical and must take precedence over other considerations. Under these circumstances, the Greens need to think very carefully about whether spending Ł15 million on refurbishing Hove Town Hall for Council staff is the best use of council taxpayers’ money.”