Havering Council cabinet: Parsonage Farm School expansion agreed

Parents and councillors protesting at the gates of Parsonage Farm School earlier this year

Parents and councillors protesting at the gates of Parsonage Farm School earlier this year - Credit: Archant

A controversial plan to expand a Rainham school and provisional cuts to public services were waved through by Havering Council cabinet tonight.

Parsonage Farm School, of Farm Road, will almost double in size - from 486 to 840 places - under rubber-stamped proposals.

Sat in the public gallery, parents of children at the school - who fear rapid growth will affect the ethos of the school and road safety near the site - cried dissent when the seven-strong Tory cabinet agreed expansion plans.

Shouts of “it’s all lies” ended with council leader and cabinet chair Cllr Roger Ramsey telling them to “please leave and be quiet”.

Labour’s Cllr Keith Darvill (Heaton) earlier this year called in the proposal for review.

Following the meeting, he said: “I can understand why the parents here this evening were distressed. The whole thing does not seem to be open enough.

“I just think they [the administration] don’t want to change their minds.”

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Havering Council’s Mary Pattinson, head of learning of and achievement, stressed to cabinet the expansion of Parsonage - instead of nearby Rainham Village School - was necessary to meet demand for places in September 2015. She said the statutory processes involved in deciding on another school would be too time-consuming.

Cllr David Durant (Independent Residents’, Rainham and Wennington) also opposes the plans.

After the meeting, he said: “When someone says we’ve got to do something now it’s like a double glazing sales man saying ‘get this now while it’s on offer’.

“We’re being, in a sense, blagged.”

A public consultation on the council’s budget, which envisages savings being made through cuts to libraries, social care and youth services, begins at the end of this week.

At tonight’s meeting cabinet rejected a raft of revisions suggested by the Ukip group, including cutting the pay of council executives.

Cllr Ramsey said a referendum on raising council tax by more than two per cent, which could serve as an alternative to cuts, was not out of the question but hinted a favourable outcome was not likely.

Earlier this week, Cllr Clarence Barrett resigned as leader of the Havering Residents’ Association to go into coalition with the Conservatives, splitting his party in the process.

He was absent from Wednesday night’s meeting, with colleagues from the newly-created East Havering Residents’ Group saying he was “away on business”.

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