Rokeby campaigners urge free school consultation to be repeated

Rokeby campaigners pictured when the field was being dug up recently ahead of a planning application for new school buildings. NNL-160706-114104001
Rokeby campaigners pictured when the field was being dug up recently ahead of a planning application for new school buildings. NNL-160706-114104001

Campaigners fighting plans to bring two new schools to the Rokeby area say they have been vindicated by the release of a consultation report they had battled to get sight of.

The report, known as a section 10 consultation, was carried out in the autumn by the team behind the proposed Rugby Free Secondary School.

That was before the proposed site on land by Rokeby Primary was revealed. This left residents and councillors shocked at the lack of consultation – and adamant the extra demand for secondary places is in the north of the town.

At an area forum meeting on the estate in March, Knowedge Schools Trust director Tom Legge said they had no reason to repeat the consultation they had done before the site was named.

That triggered sustained pressure for their report to be published and it has now appeared on the Trust’s website.

And the campaigners say it shows only postcodes CV21 and CV23 were referred to – whereas Rokeby is CV22.

They claim this is in accord with their belief Rokeby is not where places are needed – and with the site not mentioned in the consultation, they should follow guidelines from the New Schools Network that consultation should be repeated if there is a major change, using a proposed site change as an example.

Chair of campaign group Sustainable Hillside and Rokeby Education (SHARE), Sally Chant, said: “We have yet to find a single local community group or councillor that was consulted as part of the statutory consultation, which, at the time, only referred to CV21 or CV23 as possible sites.

“There was no suggestion the Rokeby Playing Field was a potential site for the schools, which means that the Rokeby and Hillside community was unable to to express any concerns about the project.

“We simply do not feel that adequate public consultation was carried out prior to the Education Funding Agency agreeing to fund RFSS.

“We are calling for a withdrawal of funds based on an invalid consultation, and a further consultation period with relevant stakeholders, including local council, local community groups, local schools and residents.”