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Crunch talks on closure of Burnholme Community College in York
OPPOSITION councillors in York have said they cannot support plans under Labour to close a York secondary school ahead of crunch talks to be held in the city tonight.
City of York Council’s Liberal Democrat group said too many questions remain unanswered ahead of the decision-making council cabinet meeting to be held at Burnhome Social Club.
Coun Keith Aspden, Liberal Democrat spokesman for education, children and young people, said more needs to be done to look at the case presented by the Burnholme Parents’ Group, which is campaigning to save the school – before “it is lost forever to the community”.
He said: “After meeting parent representatives last week to study Labour’s proposals we cannot support the plans for closure when there are still legitimate questions for the cabinet to answer.
“These include the potential £2 million cost for closing the school and a lack of detail as to where the invaluable on-site Special Educational Needs provision will be moved.
“We also need to see a long-term strategic plan to deal with an increased demand for school places after closure and the rising pupil numbers across York in the next ten years.”
Pupils from the school are set to hold a silent protest outside the social club tonight as members of the cabinet meet to discuss the planned closure of the school.
If approved, it would be followed by a six-week period to allow representations before a meeting of the full council determines a final decision.
If the plans are agreed, a phased closure of Burnholme would take place over the next two years. When it was saved from the axe in 2009, a business plan envisaged 60, 70 and 80 Year Seven pupils starting every year, but this September’s proposed intake has only 40 children.
Coun Aspden said: “”In 2009, the council agreed a five-year plan to save the school.
“This plan should not be abandoned half-way through for short-term financial considerations.
“The parents and governors have worked tirelessly to present a thorough case that proper support and investment could result in an increase in pupil numbers to improve the viability of the school.
“This needs to be fully explored before Labour rush into closure. Once the school is closed it will be lost forever to the community.
“The Cabinet has to address all of the issues before they take a decision that has such profound long-term implications for the pupils, staff and parents.”
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