Lifeline in fight for new school
CAMPAIGNERS fighting for a new secondary school in the south of the borough have been given a lifeline by Whitehall. The Holborn and St Pancras Secondary School Campaign group have been told the government is willing to fund a new school if
CAMPAIGNERS fighting for a new secondary school in the south of the borough have been given a lifeline by Whitehall.
The Holborn and St Pancras Secondary School Campaign group have been told the government is willing to fund a new school if the need can be proved.
The campaigners, who have been battling for more than 30 years, are now demanding an overhaul of Camden Council's proposed £200million school investment programme which includes building a new academy in Swiss Cottage.
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The latest news came in a letter from education minister Ed Balls to MP for Holborn and St Pancras Frank Dobson, who has supported the fight for a new secondary in the south of the borough.
Mr Balls said: "The department [of education] will now encourage Camden to take this work forward on an urgent and intensive basis.
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"We have made it clear to the council that the department is happy to support Camden's work on bringing forward proposals and that we would be willing to fund a new school in the south in addition to the current expected level of BSF (Building Schools for Future) funding, as long as it could be demonstrated that places were needed."
In its £200million BSF programme Camden Council controversially opted for Swiss Cottage as the site of its planned new school.
Education chiefs said they could not open a new school in the south of the borough because there was no appropriate site available. Instead, they decided to expand South Camden Community School in Somers Town.
Emma Jones, joint head of the Holborn and St Pancras Secon-dary School Campaign, said: "We want Camden Council to think again. We have a chance to do something about this now and it's very much up to the council to do it. If they press ahead with their plans it will be a big mistake."
But schools boss Andrew Mennear is adamant the BSF plans, which will see the new academy open in 2011, will not be blown off course.
He said: "We cannot delay the BSF money because we have an urgent need for places and investment. We are going to carry on working with the campaigners and will see what we can do but we still don't have a site."