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Wetherby council backs one school plan

Wetherby Town Hall Picture by Gerard Binks.
Wetherby Town Hall Picture by Gerard Binks.

Angry parents stormed out of Wetherby Town Council’s monthly meeting during a debate on secondary school provision in the area.

Campaigners from the Save our School (Boston Spa) group said parents from both sides became frustrated with the way Tuesday’s meeting was being run and that ward councillors were not answering questions put to them.

The group’s chairman and former Boston Spa School pupil, Debbie Young told the News: “I have never been so disgusted at what I witnessed on Tuesday night.

“There were eight tabled questions and one answered and that was only by (Boston Spa) principal Chris Walsh who was able to give the answer, as those actually responsible for our children’s education didn’t seem to know. They all seemed to lose their voices.

“Only two councillors made any comment, one of those being the chair of governors of Wetherby High, Cindy Bentley, where she stated she believed only one school was needed in the area.

“There was no debate, no answers for residents, parents or pupils who had come out in large numbers to hear how they would make a decision.”

Debbie added: “It wasn’t just Boston Spa parents or residents who walked out en masse in disgust, Wetherby parents left.”

Social media was full of complaints from parents about Tuesday’s meeting.

Wetherby Ward Councillors stated to the News: “With regard to the town council meeting earlier this week we made it clear at the meeting that there was a conflict between our two roles as both town councillors and ward councillors - we represent all communities in our ward, so we did not take part in that discussion. The drop-in sessions provide an opportunity for people to ask us anything.”

After considering the community engagement survey and other recent correspondence, Wetherby Town Council voted overwhelmingly to support Leeds City Council’s proposal for one secondary school in Wetherby.

Of Tuesday’s meeting a town council spokesman told the News: “Representations were received from the chairs of governors of both Wetherby High School and Boston Spa High School and questions were posed by Wetherby residents and the large number of members of the public who had attended from outside the Wetherby town area.

“Those present were reminded that Wetherby Town Council is the local council representing Wetherby town only and as such a number of the questions posed could not be answered by Wetherby Town Councillors at last night’s meeting.

“Local residents, both from Wetherby and the surrounding area, were encouraged to attend the forthcoming drop-in sessions hosted by local Leeds City ward councillors which will provide an opportunity for discussion on the subject of secondary school provision in a less formal setting than the town council meeting.”

In taking this stance the town council has adopted a position supported by Wetherby residents through the emerging Neighbourhood Development Plan. where 84 per cent of respondents supported the policy to provide new and improved secondary school provision on the existing site in a 2017 consultation on the pre-submission draft document.”

Deputy Mayor, Coun Galan Moss, strongly urged all Wetherby residents to reply to the consultation at: https://www.leeds.gov.uk/docs/Community%20Engagement%20Survey.pdf before the March 25 deadline.