Friday 21 November 2014

EFA Feedback on location for The Heights

The Education Funding Agency (EFA) has asked RBC to help find a community-backed permanent location for The Heights.  Reading Borough Council has published a press release welcoming the EFA's request to help engage with the public.

The facts:
  • The EFA has agreed to Rob Wilson MP's request that there should be a thorough public consultation on where the permanent location for The Heights is built.  Rob's statement can be read on his website
  • The EFA has indefinitely put on hold pursuing High Ridge in Upper Warren Avenue as the solution.  A stated reason is "we recognise that developing the school there would be unpopular with a section of the local community"
  • However the EFA states that "High Ridge presents a deliverable if not ideal solution...We are confident that a good school can be delivered on this site."
  • The EFA states that the "only real alternatives to High Ridge are sites within LA ownership or held in Trust"
  • The sites listed are:  Mapledurham Playing Fields, Albert Road Recreational Ground and Bugs Bottom
  • RBC's Policy Committee will be discussing the report (referred to in RBC's press release), on Monday 1st December. The report has this map of Mapledurham Playing Fields appended
It is important to note that the school's temporary site is incapable of becoming the permanent site as it is not big enough (leaving aside the fact that it is in the wrong location, being outside the catchment area).  However RBC's Kevin McDaniel has clarified with me this afternoon that he believes the school could remain on the temporary site for up to one year more than originally given as the end date in order to deliver the right final solution (ie extending the date of moving to a permanent location to September 2017 at the latest).

You can read the EFA's letter to Rob as well as their letter to RBC.

The Reading Chronicle has published this report and GetReading this slightly longer report.  Other reactions can be read on The Heights' Facebook page.

There is a lot to be worked out and disseminated by the EFA/RBC such as how to carry out the consultation and what information is needed to ensure the consultation will generate meaningful results.  I will be working hard at my jobs as councillor for Mapledurham Ward and Chairman of the Mapledurham Playing Fields Management Committee, studying the matter carefully and updating readers regularly.