Unanimous Support fromChapel-en-le-Frith Parish Council

At tonight’s meeting of Chapel-en-le-Frith Parish Council, councillors unanimously supported a motion of opposition to the closure of Combs School.

Hugh Barton spoke on behalf of Combs School, Village Hall & Chapel. In a carefully reasoned presentation to the Council, he described:
  • DCC’s objectives in reducing surplus places and making a fairer distribution of public funds, and how they would not be achieved by the moves DCC have proposed.

  • The flaws in the consultation process being carried through by DCC, where errors in the financial calculations have already been admitted, and the consideration of alternative solutions required by law has not been carried out.

  • The negative impact that the removal of the school and other community facilities would have on Combs and the whole parish.

Cllr Stewart Young, as Chairman of the Council, ensured that all the councillors who were able to – two had to abstain because they had declared an interest, in that they are governors of other local schools – could ask questions and give their views on the proposed closure of the school.

Cllr Peter Harrison informed the meeting that he had been a governor of Combs School until five years ago. He asked for clarification of whether the building was still in use for religious services, and was informed that marriages and baptisms still occurred, there having been recent examples.

Cllr Guy Martin recalled that he had attended the consultation meeting on 22 May. Going to the meeting, based on the evidence that DCC had presented, he had thought there was a case for Combs School to be closed. But having heard the case presented by DCC, and then seen the presentations made by parents and villagers, he had completely changed his mind.

Cllr Ann Young commented that the closure of the only community facility in Combs would be a ‘body blow’, which would leave Combs ‘irreparably damaged’.

Cllr Sara Armstrong wanted to understand some of the details of Hugh’s argument, including the inaccuracies contained in DCC’s proposal. She recommended deeper analysis of the effects of changed transport arrangements, should Combs School close, which Hugh undertook to do on behalf of the school. She ended her comments with, “I give this [the opposition to the closure] my full support. I would be very distressed to see the school closed.”

Cllr Stewart Young closed the discussion by saying, “You have a very good case”. With that, a motion was proposed to write to DCC to express Chapel-en-le-Frith Parish Council’s support for the continuance of Combs School, Village Hall and Chapel.

The motion was unanimously carried by all voting councillors present.