Councillor hits back at criticism over Spalding school plans

RIGHT OF REPLY: Coun Harry Drury, district councillor for Spalding St Mary ward which includes the former South Holland Post 16 Centre. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG160717-133TW.

A district councillor criticised for a lack of response to plans for a special school in Spalding has defended his efforts so far

Coun Harry Drury, whose Spalding St Mary’s ward includes the former South Holland Post 16 Centre which the proposed school for challenging children would use, has vowed to “do everything possible” to help residents of Matmore Gate where the centre is based.

Frustration has grown over a lack of answers from Wellspring Academy Trust, the South Yorkshire-based educational body behind plans for Springwell Academy Spalding to cater for children aged five to 16 who are outside of mainstream schools.

Coun Drury, as well as South Holland and the Deeping MP John Hayes, attended a public meeting in December when opposition to the school was raised over concerns about increased traffic along Matmore Gate and potential disorder.

Bert Collins (77), of Matmore Close, said: “I’ve been touch with the Conservative county councillor (Christine Lawton) for this ward to see if Coun Drury would reply directly to at least five or six people who have emailed him about this issue.

“But neither he, nor John Hayes, have replied, although we have had a letter from Mr Hayes.

As a district councillor, there is very little I can do, other than to lobby the responsible authority and act as a spokesman for the concerned residents

Coun Harry Drury, South Holland District Council, Spalding St Mary’s Ward

“The main concern of the people who live in this area is with the disruption we already suffer from excess traffic and speeding cars.

“But the academy is being bulldozed through and no one is taking a blind bit of notice of us.”

However, in a statement to the Spalding Guardian, Coun Drury said: “Following the public meeting on December 7, 2017, I received six emails from residents further conveying their concerns regarding the new proposals for the Post 16 Centre.

“I have, through the public consultation, passed on these concerns but have yet to receive a response from Wellspring Academy Trust.

“As a district councillor, there is very little I can do, other than to lobby the responsible authority and act as a spokesman for the concerned residents.

“Having attended the public meeting and spoken on the matter at length, voicing the concerns of the residents, the only area so far that has fallen under the remit of South Holland District Council is in relation to a planning application for a fence and recreation area.

“I voted against this at the planning committee meeting on December 6, 2017, but many of the concerns about its validity, such as traffic movement, parking and highways safety, fall under the remit of Lincolnshire County Council.

“Meanwhile, the building itself is, I believe to be under the remit of the local education authority and the Department for Education.

“I have had a meeting with the county councillor (Lawton) for the ward and updated her with the information I had received.

“Like myself, Coun Lawton was also shocked and disappointed that she had not received any form of correspondence or consultation from the proposed new occupants and was looking to investigate further.

“I will continue to push for further information and will do everything possible to continue to represent and voice the concerns of the residents.

“I hope to have some information to go back to residents with in the near future once further progress with Springwell Academy Spalding is made public.”

Meanwhile, Mr Hayes has outlined his efforts to represent people worried about the proposed Springwell Academy Spalding.

Mr Hayes made a letter he sent last month to residents of Matmore Gate, site of the former South Holland Post 16 Centre that is wanted for Springwell, available to the Spalding Guardian.

In his letter, Mr Hayes said that he had written to Wellspring Academy Trust, the body behind the new school, “to ask for an update on this matter”.

The MP added: “The Trust has confirmed that it has received a large number of responses and will respond to all feedback in a question and answer-type report.

“This Public Consultation report will be submitted to the Department for Education for approval and, once approved, it will be published for the public

“Wellspring Academy Trust has trold me that it expects this process to take a number of weeks.”

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