We Talk to High Peak Borough Council

Councillor Andrew Bingham invited us to address the Social Inclusion and Community Select Committee this evening. He is responsible, on the executive of High Peak Borough Council, for Social and Community Development, and for responding to Derbyshire County Council on their proposal to close Combs Infant School.

Mr. Bingham has already expressed his personal opinion on DCC's plans, but wants to give the Borough Council's formal response having gathered the opinions of other councillors in a public and transparent way.

Newly elected chair of the committee, Councillor Linda Baldry, first asked Dee Hill, from DCC, to explain DCC's proposal. Mrs. Hill, as Senior Assistant Education Officer in the Development section of DCC, is reponsible for the statistical analysis of the provision of school places. She explained that DCC is trying to reduce surplus places in the wider Chapel-en-le-Frith area by closing Combs School, and providing pupils who would have gone there with places at Chapel Primary.

It was then time for parent-governor Nick Boden to give a short, fact-packed presentation*, in which he analysed why DCC's plan should not go ahead.

Councillors asked questions of Dee Hill, but none of Nick, merely commenting that his was a "fantastic presentation".

Councillor Baldry asked for comments, and several councillors indicated their opposition to the proposed school closure. Councillor David Lomax spoke at some length, "We should have choice between schools. We need the variety of schools that we have, including small rural ones. What will be next? If other schools are above the average cost, does that mean that they will also be threatened? Closing Combs School would certainly have a detrimental impact on the community life of the area, and it's clear that the closure is very unlikely to help with the issue of surplus places in Chapel. I can see no reason for Derbyshire Council to proceed with their plan."

Councillor Baldry asked the meeting whether this opinion was held by others present, and there was agreement. Councillor Bingham thanked the councillors for their input to the response he will now deliver to DCC.

* You can download a copy of Nick Boden's presentation as either a 2.9Mb Powerpoint file or a 1.3Mb Adobe Acrobat file.