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Parish council meeting called off following disruption threats

Theale Parish Council says it will not tolerate bullying or intimidation

John Herring

John Herring

john.herring@newburynews.co.uk

Contact:

01635 886633

Application for Theale Primary School replacement submitted

THE row over building a new school in Theale appears to have escalated as Theale Parish Council has called off a meeting scheduled for tonight.

In a statement the parish council said that there had been an increase in the number of "malicious and personal attacks" on parish councillors and staff about the proposed new primary school.

The parish council said it had become aware that group was intending to disrupt tonight's meeting and not abide by the rule of the chairwoman. 

The proposed £8.2m school was not an item on the agenda, however the parish council grants members of the public time to speak ahead of items on the agenda. 

Theale Parish Council said it would not tolerate "bullying or intimidation", and its chairwoman, Becky Williams, has cancelled tonight's meeting.

"We feel that the majority of Theale residents will support the parish council's firm stance against such unacceptable behaviour and will agree that neither parish councillors nor parish council staff should be subjected to bullying or intimidation," the parish council said. 

It added that work on the school would continue unaffected. 

The parish council has been locked in negotiations with West Berkshire Council over the site of the new school at the North Street playing fields. 

Planning permission was obtained for the 1.5 entry school (up to 45 pupils in each year group) in 2016. 

The parish council, which leases the land from the Englefield Estate, had objected to the new school on pupil and highways safety and the loss of football pitches. 

The village has been divided over West Berkshire Council's chosen site.

And following a poll of villagers voting in favour of building at North Street, parish councillors agreed in principle to discuss terms of the sale behind closed doors in April.

West Berkshire Council has threatened to pull the plug on the scheme and spend the money intended for the new school on expanding nearby schools instead, notably Calcot Junior School. 

The district council has said that the critical date for building the new school is July 31. 

The council's chief executive Nick Carter said: “This date is driven by the need to achieve certainty on admission arrangements for September 2019 in order to afford time for parents to make appropriate arrangements and to enable an informed choice based on available places."

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