Cllr Ray Gooding: RFU seek political gain by misleading residents and families on Education

Residents for Uttlesford may have reviewed Essex County Council’s recently published “Meeting the demand for school places in Essex 2018 – 2027” but from their comments either they have not read it or have chosen deliberately to misinterpret it.

They suggest that ECC has failed to adequately identify the school places necessary for the new developments in the Local Plan.  However, if they had read item 2.4 of the document it clearly says that the school place plan includes details of current planning permissions and Local Plans that have reached the “regulation 19” stage. 

That may sound like a technical point but R4U know very well that Uttlesford, like every other district in Essex, is yet to reach that stage. 

I am unsure how they think ECC could give detailed locations for schools and children in housing developments the location and size of which are yet to be established. 

These Local Plans are developing as we speak and that is why ECC projections are constantly updated and published annually.

If that were not misleading enough, they go on to infer that Uttlesford residents are paying for schools across the county.  Perhaps they also failed to read item 1.5 of the document which clearly sets out where the money for school building comes from.

If they had read it they would have seen that not a penny comes from Council Tax anywhere in the County. It all comes from various government agencies and developer contributions.

Cllr Hargreaves suggests that the use of Planning Groups is incorrect but he clearly fails to understand that R4U proposals to expand some schools without reference to the availability of spaces in others just a short distance away would lead to schools, particularly in rural areas, becoming unsustainable.  Perhaps, given R4U’s stated policies they would explain which of Uttlesford’s Secondary schools they would close if their aims were pursued?

As our 10 year plan shows we have a clear and robust strategy for school places in Uttlesford and across the rest of Essex.  I can only conclude that Cllr Hargreaves and R4U deliberately fail to understand the process and are seeking political gain by misleading residents and families.

Excerpts from the Walden Local: 14/02/2018