A GROUP of residents have joined together to reinforce the message that the North Street playing fields is the wrong site for the new school in Theale.
They have expressed major concerns over highways safety, the loss of recreational space, a lack of parking proposed at the school and the impact on local services, such as the doctor’s surgery.
The residents say that Theale as a village will be “destroyed” if the new school is built on the playing fields and are calling on West Berkshire Council to expand the existing school instead.
During the meeting, Pamela Sergent, who is spearheading the campaign, made an impassioned speech highlighting her fears.
In her speech, she accused West Berkshire Council of “bullying” Theale Parish Council into giving up the land.
She said: “I would like to question why a poll is even being considered.
“It is clear that West Berkshire Council have already taken the decision to take North Street playing fields and, ever since, they have tried to make things fit.
“West Berkshire Council have never held a proper public meeting. Their information is flawed at best and far from complete.
“They led us to believe that the money would be pulled two years ago.
“Residents said on day one that it was the wrong site, that it was too dangerous, that there would be unnecessary loss of recreational space and that the rest of Theale could not cope.”
She went on to accuse West Berkshire Council of “brushing the facts aside” and “continuing to force this bad decision along”.
She also claimed that Theale Primary School had been “selective” by insisting that the new school was the only option.
Mrs Sergent continued: “Theale Parish Council, Englefield Parish Council and the residents objected to the planning application, stating valid reasons.
“Just because that was overruled by West Berkshire Council, it does not stop those from being valid reasons.
“Thames Valley Police explained their concerns about when, not if, an accident would happen.
“There is insufficient highway to make a two-metre path, yet still West Berkshire Council continue to say the roads and pavements will be suitable.
“Open your eyes, there are not and never will be for that number of pedestrians travelling in two directions along a busy narrow road.”
Concluding her argument, she said: “Theale is a village not ready for expansion on this scale.
“Infrastructure and services simply cannot cope.
“It is time to stand up and say no to releasing the North Street playing fields. Build a school on its existing site.
“After all, West Berkshire Council have previously stated at an Englefield Parish Council meeting that the school does not have to have the capacity to expand to 420 places to get the funding they received.
“West Berkshire Council created this deadline again and issued an ultimatum.
“It is time they learnt that bullying is not acceptable.”
After the meeting, Craig Stevens, another resident who feels the playing fields is the wrong site for the school, said: “The main reason is the road. It is too dangerous.
“Why should we have to wait for a kid to be knocked over before we realise this?
“If it is going to be built, the school has to be right and has to be in the right place.
“The North Street playing fields isn’t the right one.”