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Council - Woodbridge and Mayfield schools expansion plans get backing despite objections

14:31 18 January 2013

Despite councillors concerns over “overcrowding” and questioning the reasons behind a school’s selection, the council will continue with controversial expansion plans for two Redbridge secondary schools.

After the original decision was requisitioned by Cllr Gywneth Deakins, Cllr Richard Hoskins and Cllr Felicity Banks, Redbridge councillors voted against their motion at Redbridge Town Hall, High Road, Ilford yesterday evening.

The plan to expand Woodbridge High School, Saint Barnabas Road, Woodford Green and Mayfield School, Pedley Road, Goodmayes by six forms of entry will go ahead after 55 votes to four.

Cllr Deakins said: “I have concerns about overcrowding at Woodbridge. It was originally designed for 800 pupils, not 2,000. The school has very little recreation space already.

“I think serious consideration should be given to other sites. If the need for places continues we need to be more imaginative. If expanding our school’s don’t go well, I don’t detect a plan B.”

A total of 423 people responded to the original consultation process with 73 per cent saying they were in favour of the proposal to expand the school.

Cllr Hoskins said: “We have new homes being built which will swamp the infrastructure so why are we expanding a school on the edge of the borough?

“The council certainly can’t be attracted by the size of the campus, it is one of the smallest.

“The strategy for school expansion is not satisfactory, and it needs more explanation.”

Cllr Ross Hatfull disagreed: “Councillors aren’t taking the school places crisis seriously. Each week I see families who can’t find their children a school. We either expand our schools’ current sites or deny children a place.

“I promised to do everything I could to help ease this problem. Expansion does concern me, but its better than the alternative. There is space at Woodbridge thanks to an unused piece of land.”

Cllr Alan Weinberg said he was “saddened” that the motion had been requisitioned.

He added: “The expansion would mean greater flexibility, smaller groupings, money to attract the best staff, a remodelled canteen and sports facilities.”

“It is my duty to provide school places in the borough.”

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