|Residents' Group Say School Expansion Unnecessary|
Friends of Putney Common say Council exaggerating shortfall of places
The Friends of Putney Common (FofPC) are claiming that Wandsworth Council are being alarmist over the need for new school places in the area in attempt to persuade people that a school should be built on the Putney Hospital site.
Using figures obtained by the Freedom of Information Act they say their analysis shows that the planned two form entry school would be built in the wrong place.
They claim the projected deficit of places in Thamesfield ward is falling, having peaked in 2011/12 and the shortfall in places has been consistent for several years, with no increase predicted between now and 2016/17.
Also the group says that head teachers have expressed concern at the Council’s predictions in some wards, pointing out that many parents put their children’s name down on multiple waiting lists. In addition the new housing being developed in Thamesfield is entirely in the east of the ward - at the opposite end to Putney Common.
Nicholas Evans, for FofPC says, "Not only is the Council planning to build private roads on the Common, which is protected by Act of Parliament, it is also intending to build a large primary school where one is not needed. These new figures prove that the new school should be located in SW18, where developers have built over 1,000 new homes, with more planned.”
FofPC has obtained the statistics underlying the most recent Council projections for primary school places in Thamesfield. Thamesfield is ‘Planning Area 8’ in Wandsworth and runs alongside the Thames from east of Wandsworth Park, past Putney Bridge and then as far as Putney Common. The Council has issued a series of press releases over the last two years underlining the need for new primary places in the Borough, continually citing the higher birth rate. Following the publication of new Greater London Authority population figures earlier this year they have used the following quote to illustrate the requirement for places: “the number of children being born in the Borough rose from 4,359 in 2003 to 5,477 in 2011.”
The FoPC say that this increase is driven by new residential developments, rather than a rising birth rate, although there are considerable variation across the borough in different wards. Despite this, the Council continue to justify the need for new primary places in the Thamesfield ward in Putney, and the establishment of a new 2 form entry primary on Putney Common for 420 pupils, by stressing a rise in the birth rate. The chart below shows the birth rate in the are being static.
According to the FoPC the birth rate pattern is similar in adjacent wards with with practically no rise in the birth rate between 2008/9 and 2016/17.
Nicholas Evans said, "The Council is attempting to justify their actions by selectively quoting from the official statistics. Cllr Kathy Tracey condemned local residents for denying children a school they so badly needed, however the facts are clear, the demand in Wandsworth is elsewhere. Not only are Wandsworth Council proposing to encroach on Putney Common to build the school, these new figures show they’re also planning to build it at the wrong end of the ward. "
On 18th July , the cabinet member for education and children's services Cllr Kathy Tracey responded:
July 18, 2013