A rising primary school age population is putting pressure on school places in Hove and Portslade, a new councillor has warned.
Alan Robins, the recently elected Labour member for South Portslade, described the situation as “a ticking time bomb” at a meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council last night (Thursday 20 October).
Fellow South Portslade Labour councillor Les Hamilton said that at St Peter’s, in his ward, there were 150 Year 1 pupils in five classes.
But with only 90 junior school places, parents were frustrated because in two years’ time they didn’t know where their children would go.
Councillor Vanessa Brown said that, when she had responsibility for children and young people, Balfour and Davigdor schools had been extended.
The Conservative councillor added that during her tenure Benfield had become an all-through primary school, taking more pupils, and the Connaught had been reopened as an annex to West Hove.
She said that her Labour predecessors had known about the problem but had not dealt with it.
Councillor Sue Shanks, the Green cabinet member who took over from Councillor Brown, gave short shrift to a Labour proposal to solve the problem by opening a co-operative academy.
She said that she was opposed to academies in principle.
The subject will be back on the timetable in future because, as Councillor Anne Pissaridou pointed out: “There’s a pressing need for a new primary school in Hove as well as growing demand for primary school places across the city.”
The Labour councillor for Wish ward said that the Tories had used sticking plaster solutions which had led to schools expanding to breaking point.
She also accused the Greens of putting up temporary buildings to use as classrooms rather than planning for a much-needed new school.
Councillor Pissaridou said: “We have a school places crisis in Hove with demand increasingly outstripping supply.
“The Tories knew this throughout their time in power but all they did was employ short-term sticky plaster solutions – expanding schools to breaking point, rather than planning for the new school Hove so desperately needs.
“The Greens seem devoid of any realistic policy – aside from erecting new Portakabins at existing schools in an attempt to meet the rising demand for places.
“With our proposals for a new not-for-profit co-operative academy primary school, we are putting the future of our city’s children and families first.”
Councillor Brown dismissed the Labour motion as opportunistic and ill-informed.
The Hove Park ward councillor said: “Labour made no provision at all for extra school places.”
She said that Councillor Pissaridou criticised academies “even though it was a Labour government that brought in academies.
“The previous Labour administration tried to build an academy in Falmer but failed.
“We had to persuade the Labour government that we would deliver.
“And it was a Labour administration that closed the only in this city.”
She was referring to Stanley Deason in Whitehawk, which by the time it closed had transformed through Marina High into Comart (East Brighton College of Media Arts).
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