Fri, 16 Mar 2018
Theale residents have voted in favour of releasing land to build a new primary school in the village.
However, the result is non-binding and Theale Parish Council must decide on whether to hold a vote to allow the new school to be built.
West Berkshire Council wants to build the £8m school on land at the North Street playing fields, currently leased by Theale Parish Council from the Englefield Estate.
The parish council has not voted to release its lease on the land, raising concerns about the location of the new school.
A parish poll held yesterday (Thursday) gave residents a chance to have their say.
Residents voted on the following question: Should Theale Parish Council relinquish the lease on the land at North Street Playing Fields to allow a new primary school to be built on that site as per planning consent?
A total of 2,357 people were eligible to vote and 940 votes were cast (a turnout of 39.8 per cent).
And it was a close call as 499 residents voted in favour (53 per cent) to the 440 who voted against (47 per cent).
But the parish poll is only advisory and West Berkshire Council has called on Theale Parish Council to call a meeting and formally vote on releasing the land.
Speaking after the result was announced West Berkshire Council’s head of education, Ian Pearson, said: “I’m delighted that residents have recognised the importance of building a new school in Theale and voted to release the land needed for the project.
"It is a vote of confidence in our plans and will make a huge difference to the future generations of children in Theale.
“Now the community has had its say the time has come for Theale Parish Council to come together to formalise the decision and agree to release the land.
"The decision paves the way for a new school and I hope the council will make the decision swiftly so that we can get on with the building and be ready to open in September 2020.”
Theale Parish Council has been approached for comment.
For more reaction, see next week's Newbury Weekly News.