‘Hobson’s choice’ on school mobile plan

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RESIDENTS fear the siting of a mobile classroom at a Spalding primary school is a “done deal” before planners even meet to discuss it.

Lincolnshire County Council planning and regulation committee is not due to discuss the application for a double mobile classroom to be located in the grounds of Spalding Primary School until Monday, September 3 – just two days before 30 extra children are due to start the new school year.

Because of the tight timescale, work has already begun on preparing the ground for the new mobile, with many believing the building itself will be lifted in this week – before it even has planning approval.

It has led to a feeling that the planning permission is almost certain to be given the go-ahead despite numerous objections, which centre on traffic congestion in neighbouring streets at drop-off and pick-up times.

Those same objections were among the reasons an application to build a permanent extension at the ideally-located primary school was turned down earlier this year.

Lincolnshire Education Authority had wanted to build the new school to cope with growing demand for primary school places.

Phil Scarlett, who lives near the school, said: “I think there is a sense of inevitability that planning permission will be granted and the education authority is going to get what it wanted all along, despite the traffic issues extra pupils will bring.”

And South Holland district ward councillor Roger Gambba-Jones, who has written letters objecting to the plans, said if the mobile does go in this week it would be “sticking two fingers up” at planners.

He said: “I think they have decided to take the risk to put the mobile in before the committee meeting and I suspect permission will be given because there is a legal obligation to provide education for those children.”

Coun Gambba-Jones says he has heard that the school has a back-up plan in case permission is refused, which could see rooms not currently used as classrooms at the school, such as the staff room, to accommodate the extra 30 youngsters.

He said: “It is a Hobson’s choice. These children are coming, they are on the school roll already, so turning down the mobile would probably be a pointless exercise and all it would do is disadvantage those children.”

Lincolnshire County Council confirmed it has a plan B if the mobile is turned down.

Debbie Barnes, director of children’s services, said: “There are plans to ensure the children will be able to start school on September 5 by maximising the space currently available at the school.”