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Deanes campaigns to march on Castle Point Council offices
6:00am Friday 11th October 2013 in News
CAMPAIGNERS are planning to march on Castle Point Council’s offices today to lobby for council cash to keep the Deanes School open.
On Tuesday, the Echo reported county council leader David Finch had asked borough council leader Pam Challis if her council would make up a £480,000 funding shortfall needed to keep the school open as pupil numbers continued to reduce.
Parents and pupils say theywill be outside the council offices in Kiln Road, Thundersley, with banners and placards at 4pm urging councillors to stump up the cash.
Protesters will be also hand letters to Mrs Challis, asking her to back the bailout plans.
Sarah Raven, from the Save Deanes Action Group, said: “We know Castle Point Council supports keeping the Deanes open, but it is being backed into a corner.
“It is unfair of David Finch to try to pass the buck to Pam Challis to invest in the school.
“Call us suspicious, but we don’t trust any of the politicians at the moment, so we want some answers.
“We want to show just how much we want the school to stay open and we want the support of our local councillors for this underwriting proposal.
“The school should not need to be bailed out in the first place. We want this to end. It’s a game of ping-pong with our children’s lives.
“This has already taken five months out of our children’s lives, how much more are they going to take from us?”
For the school to remain financially viable, it would need to take in at least 120 pupils a year, maintaining the school roll at 600.
Mr Finch’s letter said the county council accepted it would probably need to provide extra secondary school spaces after 2023 but did not believe keeping the Deanes School open was the best option then because of the way its school roll was reducing.
Castle Point Council leader Pam Challis said her council can’t afford the £480,000 needed to save the Deanes School.
She said: “The chief executive and I met the headteacher and deputy head on Monday and reaffirmed the strong support of Castle Point Council for the school to remain open.
“The headteacher, Jan Atkinson, was advised we were doing all we could to make the strongest possible argument about the community requirements for a school in that location.
“We wholeheartedly support the efforts of the parents, pupils and the community in their Save Deanes School campaign, but at the same time must confirm that Castle Point Council has no funding for schools within its budget.
“Essex County Council is the education authority. It receives funding for schools in Essex and is entirely responsible for the future of the school.”
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