Sat, 14 Apr 2018
STEPS have been made this week towards building a new primary school in Theale, following a parish council vote.
West Berkshire Council has said that building the replacement school on five acres at the North Street playing fields is the only viable option for the £8m facility.
But the land is owned by the Englefield Estate and leased to Theale Parish Council, which had objected to the proposal on the grounds of safety and the loss of football pitches.
The two councils have been at an impasse for years, with the district council previously warning that it could lose government funding for the urgently-needed school.
The village has been divided over the future of the Ofsted-rated outstanding school and residents had their say in a parish poll last month.
The close result saw 499 residents (53 per cent) vote in favour of the parish council relinquishing its lease on the land to the 440 who voted against (47 per cent).
And, at a meeting on Monday, parish councillors agreed in principle to discuss terms of sale.
The decision was made in Part 2, meaning that the press and public were excluded from the meeting.
The parish council said that an update would be provided to residents in due course.
Theale’s district councillor Alan Macro (Lib Dem) said: “I welcome the parish council’s decision to ‘agree in principle to discuss terms of sale’ for the land required for the new school, though I agree with many residents who said that it is a shame that the decision was taken behind closed doors.
“I urge both Theale Parish and West Berkshire councils to enter into negotiations positively and with a sense of urgency, to reduce the risk of Theale children being unable to gain a place at Theale Primary School.”
Mr Macro has resigned from the parish council over the issue and a by-election to fill his seat will be held on Thursday, May 3.
Two candidates have been nominated for the by-election – Clint Rolfe and Cleone Wright.
Polling cards will be issued and voting will be held at the village hall and the John Cumber Hall.