Rhodes Avenue parents continue expansion battle
Robyn Rosen PARENTS at a Muswell Hill primary school have expressed deep concern at expansion plans which they claim will be disruptive and are unnecessary. On Monday, 50 parents attended a meeting at Rhodes Avenue primary school, where initial plans were
PARENTS at a Muswell Hill primary school have expressed deep concern at expansion plans which they claim will be disruptive and are unnecessary.
On Monday, 50 parents attended a meeting at Rhodes Avenue primary school, where initial plans were unveiled.
Last month, Broadway reported that council officers agreed to take forward recommendations to expand the school to three-form entry in 2011, to cater for the dramatic increase in the birth rate and demand for school places in the Muswell Hill area.
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But parents have highlighted a number of concerns, including limited play space, increased cars and congestion and a lack of consultation.
But one parent, who did not want to be named, said: "People are very alarmed and disappointed by the plans.
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"We are concerned about how much play space is being lost and that there are very little plans as yet as to what they will do with the existing children while construction is going on.
"We're also concerned about parking and congestion as it's a very busy area and we feel that none of these points were adequately addressed."
Nick Reid, who has a six-year-old son at the school, said: "The biggest problem is that they will have 30 per cent more children in the same space.
"They haven't thought this through from the perspective of a child. They are not listening to the parents."
Another parent added: "We really feel that the council is bulldozing this through.
"Rhodes Avenue is the top school in Haringey and it's beautiful but they are going to spoil the entire ethos of the school."
Alison Vaughan, chairwoman of governors at the school, said: "The thing to emphasise is this is very early stages and we don't want people to think this is set in stone because it's not.
"There is a very long way to go.
"There are some interesting ideas and I'm hopeful that what we end up with is something we are proud of."
Parents have also questioned why two other nearby schools are not being expanded instead of, or as well as, Rhodes Avenue.
The demand for school places in the Alexandra, Fortis Green and Muswell Hill areas is higher than any other part of the borough, where births have increased by almost 30 per cent in 10 years.
St James primary school in Woodside Avenue had expressed interest in expanding, but in March the council said Rhodes Avenue was better placed to meet the shortfall.
Cllr Lorna Reith, Haringey cabinet member for children and young people, said: "We welcome all views on this proposal. That is what the consultation period is for. All views will be taken into account when final decisions are made.
"There is a shortage of primary places in the area and clear projections that demand will continue to grow.
"Doing nothing is not an option. It is also clear that the growth in demand is concentrated in the area around Rhodes Avenue. That is why we are proposing increasing the number of places there.
"Whatever the decision, I know that Rhodes Avenue has a special ethos that contributes to its success and popularity, and I am fully committed to maintaining that."
The consultation runs until May 22. Anyone who wants to have their say can find full information including an online questionnaire at www.haringey. gov.uk/rhodesconsultation or call 020-8489 3607.