Green belt land ‘can’t be ruled out’ for tackling Redbridge’s school place shortfall
PUBLISHED: 15:11 10 September 2014 | UPDATED: 16:01 10 September 2014
Using green belt land to plug Redbridge’s 3,500 school places deficit cannot be ruled out, deputy council leader Wes Streeting has said.
Today shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt came to Newbury Park’s Oaks Park High School with a promise to tackle the borough’s deficit if Labour wins next year’s general election.
Redbridge has a shortfall in primary school places of 1,890 and of 1,650 in secondary places over the next four years.
He said Redbridge was among the worst-affected London boroughs, and without support would “struggle to meet the demand for school places in the coming years”.
Mr Streeting was with him for the visit to Oaks Park, a secondary school currently undergoing work to increase capacity by more than 400 places over the next five years.
The Labour politician, his party’s parliamentary candidate for the Ilford North constituency, said the council would examine all options for creating school places.
He added it would not be “sensible” to write-off building on the green belt although it was not something councillors “would like to do”.
Labour would divert spending away from the government’s free school programme to pay for new places, Mr Hunt said.
He added a Labour government would “concentrate funding in places like Redbridge where it was need most”.
He told the Recorder: “The problem in Redbridge is challenging, but it’s also challenging in Lewisham and in Croydon.
“Where we’re seeing the population growing, where we’re seeing people move into the borough, where we’re seeing a lot of movement, we’re seeing these particular challenges in planning.”
The Labour MP, who also teaches history at Queen Mary, University of London, added: “The green belt was Labour’s – the Town and Country Planning Act. It was a vital part of our post-war vision for England.
“And the Labour Party always values the green belt – the green belt is a way of making sure Redbridge does not sprawl to Chelmsford.”
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