Beds, Herts & Bucks

Hitchin residents against Samuel Lucas school expansion

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Media captionHertfordshire County Council says a final decison will be made in November

People living near a Hertfordshire junior school are protesting about plans to double its capacity.

The county council is proposing to increase the number of places for reception aged children at the Samuel Lucas school in Hitchin from 30 to 60.

Residents said they have not been consulted and that parking and driving in the area is already difficult.

The county council said it undertook a "full statutory consultation" and that more school places were needed.

Hertfordshire County Council's proposals would make the Gaping Lane site a two-form entry school instead of one, so extra classrooms and a larger outside playing area will be needed.

It said it needs to increase the number of reception places available in Hitchin as forecasts show there will be a shortfall of 29 places in the 2013-14 school year and 31 places in 2014-15.

'Limited consultation'

Resident Robin Dartington, who organised a protest meeting attended by more than 100 people, said the council had limited its consultation to parents and he had not been able to find a single resident who had received details.

He said more information about any changes to roads and parking restrictions was needed so they could comment properly.

"I would like to see a list of those [the council] sent letters to," he said.

"It is already difficult to get around these streets and if the school is bigger the area will be even more congested, with a larger risk of accidents."

Local places

Councillor Terry Douris said that in the" full statutory consultation" about enlarging the premises, they had 66 responses of which 15 were in favour of the plan and 43 disagreed.

He said letters had been sent to residents immediately around the school and that a list of those consulted was in the cabinet papers.

"We are not denying that there are a number of people who live in the area who aren't happy with the idea of expanding this school," he said.

"Having said that, there are a number of people in the area with children who would like to send their child to an excellent school local to where they live."

The council's education panel will discuss the plan on 19 September and if agreed, a wider formal consultation would take place.

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