Andrew Wealls, Conservative (opposition) spokesman on education on the City Council, has been trying to get a new school in Central Hove.
He has been at pains to ensure that the Labour and Green spokespeople were aware and, if possible, on board. He raised the plan with them some months ago and asked them to take it to their groups to consider.
There is a desperate shortage of primary school places in Hove, especially for families living in Goldsmid and Central Hove wards.
The Council own a large and valuable site in King’s House, Grand Avenue. It is currently the Council headquarters and going to be sold. Andrew’s plan is to use the rear part of the site for a 3 form entry primary school (total 600 places).
Andrew suggested this knowing it could cost him electorally. A school in this location was unlikely to be popular with immediate neighbours (at least those without children or grandchildren), but Andrew felt that a school was so necessary that he should press the case, regardless.
The suggestion was that the school should specialise in maths- a subject where the City attains poor levels in comparison to national ones. As well as giving children at the school an excellent maths based education, it could also act as a catalyst for improving maths teaching in our other junior schools, through mentoring and shared good practice.
We’ve just learnt that the Green and Labour parties have voted to rule out the use of part of the building for a school. Instead the whole site will be sold to fund something called ‘Workstyles 3’ – basically refurbishing Hove Town Hall to make nice new offices for Council staff.
We are proud that the Conservative group were positive and tried to deliver a much needed new school to serve the families of Goldsmid Brunswick & Adelaide and Central Hove. We are at a loss to know why the Labour Group joined with the Greens to oppose it and offer no alternative. Has some back-room deal been done? Have they been offered something in return?
Councillor Wealls said: “If any resident of Brighton & Hove gets a flyer, or reads a quote from either the Green or their Labour party colleagues campaigning for new schools, they will know this is empty electioneering. We have had the chance to deliver over 600 school places exactly where they are in dire short supply. For reasons completely beyond any sane person, they’ve opted to refurbish Hove Town Hall instead. I cannot believe families will ever forgive them”