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Complaint made over council's forecast for under-threat Deanes
3:00pm Tuesday 20th August 2013 in Local News
AN investigation could be launched by a council watchdog over the validity of figures used to decide the future of Deanes School.
Essex County Council is evaluating whether or not to close the school, in Daws Heath Road, from August 31, 2016, because of falling admission numbers.
The authority predicts pupil numbers at the school will plummet from 650 students in September 2013 to 448 by 2023.
However, parent Jeremy Wright, of Wellstead Gardens, Westcliff, claims the figures are false and significantly underestimate the number of new admissions that would come as a result of new housing developments in the area.
He has now lodged a formal complaint with the Local Government Ombudsman calling for an independent invigilator to be drafted in to scrutinise the figures.
Mr Wright said: “It is so important these numbers are investigated by an independent body rather than their own scrutiny committee because these are the whole basis for their case and I believe them to be wrong.
“From what I have found they don’t appear to have a good track record for forecasts and if thousands of people have come to a decision on Deanes with wrong information in their consultation document then it must make the consultation null and void.”
Figures forecasting future pupil numbers, the number of new homes being built in the borough and the number of new schools places required as a result of these developments have been the subject of contention throughout the consultation process from numerous campaigners as well as the Deanes School and Southend Council.
A spokesman for the ombudsman, said: “I can confirm Mr Wright has contacted the Local Government Ombudsman about his complaint. We are now assessing whether we can investigate and will give him a decision as soon as possible.”
Ray Gooding, county councillor for Education, is expected to make a formal decision on the plans on September 2.
An Essex County Council spokesperson said: “Mr Wright has raised his concerns with Essex County Council and we are responding to him directly.”
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