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New rules 'unlikely' to lead to new school in Wharfedale
Measures to encourage the creation of Free Schools are unlikely to help the Bradford District or provide an additional secondary school for Wharfedale, says a ward councillor.
Bradford councillor, Adrian Naylor (Ind, Craven), has spoken out on planning rules changes and the need for new schools in Bradford, following proposals by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles.
Councillor Naylor, who quit the Conservative Party last year after failing to win selection from the party to defend his Craven ward seat, does not believe relaxing planning rules will provide much-needed schools for the district.
He said: “I’m afraid it is unlikely to be of much use to Bradford which, with its increasing young population and the threat of an additional 45,000 houses, has a critical need for several new schools with all the facilities that entails.”
Mr Pickles blamed council planning departments and red tape for slowing down the creation of free schools.
“This is a familiar argument from Eric Pickles,” said Coun Naylor. “We last heard it around the lack of housing when the government blamed the lack of house building on local councils conveniently ignoring the 400,000 existing planning permissions which had been granted but not started.”
Mr Pickles proposes to allow free schools to open for a year before having to seek change of use certificates, believing this will pave the way for more free schools to open.
Coun Naylor said: “Wharfedale needs an additional secondary school but will a free school be able to provide this? I don’t think so.
“A new secondary school needs a lot of space and can cost in excess of £20 million.
“If an organisation was willing to invest in one, will further relaxing the planning rules be the ‘deal breaker’ which stops it going ahead?
“This is another case of the workman blaming his tools. Either the government needs to invest in new tools or in this case schools or it needs to stop distracting the people by blaming red tape.”
He called for more investment in the school stock, where necessary, to reduce overcrowding, create the right environment for learning, and improve the standard of education.