Council ‘gagged’ from supporting own Barkingside school bid

CAMPAIGNERS for a new community school in Barkingside are scratching their heads at the “gagging” of councillors from promoting their own bid to open the primary.

Barkingside 21 chairman John Sharrock told members of area committee three they are fighting “with one hand tied behind their back” because of legal advice to not promote their bid.

But the two other bidders for the building currently occupied by Ilford Jewish Primary School, Carlton Drive, Barkingside – Muslim education charity Al-Noor Foundation and the I-Foundation, which wants to open the borough’s first Hindu school – have been heavily promoting their bids.

Area three members, meeting last week at Hainault Forest Community Hall, Manford Way, Hainault, said legal advice was stopping them from promoting the council’s own bid to open the new primary when Ilford Jewish moves to the site of King Solomon High School.

The council is charged with running the consultation and passing on the results to decision-maker the Independent Office of the Schools Adjudicator, which is partly why the legal ruling has been made by council officers at Redbridge Town Hall.

But Conservative councillor Nick Hayes told the meeting: “It’s abundantly clear from people that we have in area three a demand for more places at community schools. That’s as far as I can go.”

Offering her “personal” view, party colleague Cllr Joyce Ryan, said: “We are crying out for places.

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“We need a community school because everyone needs the places, not one set.”

Tory Cllr John Fairley-Churchill, who was at the meeting to present budget proposals to members, said the council ran the risk of being eliminated from the bidding process if it ignored its legal advice.

Mr Sharrock, whose group is backing the council’s bid, said: “It doesn’t seem right that the council should be gagged and shackled.

“It’s a strange thing that they can’t promote their own bid, and many people will be left thinking that they’re just not that bothered about it.”

The consultation on the bids closes today (Thursday).

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