Closure consultation for village school near Milton Keynes moves to the next stage
A school closure plan will be going ahead despite opposition from villagers worried about the future of their local community.
A Milton Keynes Council cabinet member has used powers delegated to her to publish a statutory notice to close the gates for the last time at Emberton School.
At a meeting on Tuesday, parent Connie Cobbold said she disagreed with the closure. She said she had been told in June last year that the school would be closing in September. She said other parents “were aware” that the school had already closed so did not choose the school.
But Simon Sims, the council’s strategic lead, sufficiency and access, said that last year, out of nine children of relevant age for the community infant school, there had been no applications.
“There isn’t enough children in the local area,” he said. “The number of children in the local area has declined.”
Cllr Peter Geary, whose daughter had attended the school, said it has had complex problems, which resulted in a “loss of confidence”. He added: “It was excellent and it could still offer the same level.”
Cllr Geary added that the village pub had now closed and “the community is starting to creak.”
Cllr Keith McLean added that the “community is worried” but that he understood why the school might have to close.
Emberton parish councillor Michael Horton claimed that the decision to close the school may have effectively taken place earlier “without any consultation taking place.
“We seek assurances that in future there will be meaningful consultations before decisions are implemented.”
The parish council also asked for the ability to buy a part of the school’s playing field to build some social housing or to use as a car park.
Cllr Zoe Nolan, MK Council’s cabinet member for children and families, said that issues of the land weren’t a subject for the meeting but that they were being considered by the council. The issue needing a decision was to look at the school itself.
In confirming her decision to go ahead with the consultation, Cllr Nolan said: “This is the first of five stages of a consultation.”