Prudent spending

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As a resident of the Ecclesall area I have followed with interest the issue of school places in the south west of the city.

I have two children at local schools and am aware of concerns regarding the provision of sufficient places for local children. I recognise that an increase in pre-school children in the area has resulted in over subscription of applications to several schools in the local area.

Recently statistics published by the council showed that my local school Ecclesall Infants was faced with the problem of being unable to accommodate applications for 13 children residing within the catchment area for the September 2016 intake.

Council predictions for future intakes (2017-2019) highlight that a similar number of children living within the catchment area (between 12-15 children) will not be able to be offered places at the school for each of these years, unless the number of places available at the school is increased from its current capacity of 60 places per year.

Last summer the council took steps to address this issue and held a number of workshops to gather the views of parents and local residents.

The council also commissioned a report to identify all possible solutions to this problem.

The majority of the nine options identified in the report were estimated to cost between £2 and £3.5 million.

Other options identified were considerably more costly, the top one being a proposal to build a 630-pupil primary school on the playing fields/playground of Ecclesall Infant School.

The cost of this was estimated at £9.05m. The report summarised that this option was “three times more than the alternatives to ultimately provide the same level of additional spaces without significant other benefits”.

Unsurprisingly, this option was dismissed.

However, towards the end of 2015 the option reappeared and was included as one of three options put forward at further public consultations.

Then in January the option was approved by the council despite concerns being raised by residents.

How can the council justify this?

To waste £6m of tax payers money on such a fanciful option is hugely insulting and I strongly urge the council to reconsider.

“I also urge residents to campaign for the council to come to its senses and withdraw this option.

Rick Stebbings

Huntley Road, Sheffield S11