Home > Education > Anger over Esh Winning school closure plans

Anger over Esh Winning school closure plans

PARENTS and governors of one of the region’s greenest schools have vowed to fight council closure plans.

Friends of Esh Winning Primary School reacted with fury today after Durham County Council voted to relocate the school to a new site on the village green, at a cost of £7.3m.

They say leaving the current site, among woodland and wildlife, would jeopardise the school’s hard-earned green credentials.

The school’s garden won a prize at the Hampton Court Palace Flower Show and its green-fingered approach has attracted praise from several Government ministers.

Councillor John Wilkinson (Deerness Valley) said if the move went ahead “all the hard work done by Esh Winning Primary School would be thrown away”.

Later, he warned: “If this cabinet backs this recommendation, I will fight you all the way.”

Afterwards, parent governor Deborah Watson, who has three children at the school, said: “I can’t believe what they’ve done. They’re just not listening to what people want.”

Earlier, Mrs Watson, Coun Wilkinson, headteacher Diane Kime and special needs teacher Julie Corrigan had pleaded for the school to be rebuilt on its current site, on The Wynds.

Mrs Watson said this was the “only possible site”, warning the village centre would not cope with the extra traffic.

Mrs Kime said the current site was “perfectly situated” to support extra-curricular green activities and her preference was for it to remain there.

But councillors Jean Chaplow (Deerness Valley) and Joe Armstrong (Esh) backed the village centre site.

Coun Armstrong said: “It makes the school the centre of the community.”

Esh Winning Primary School is the only school in the village, Hamsteels Primary School having been closed last summer despite parents’ efforts to keep it open.

Today’s meeting heard the village centre site would make it easier for children from the Hamsteels estate to walk to school.

The rebuild plan would incorporate a library and the relocated Esh Winning Eco-Learning (EWE) Centre.

A total of 169 of 230 people who took part in a public consultation wanted the school rebuilt, with the majority favouring keeping the current site.

The project will have to go through the planning process before it is agreed.

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