CLOSURE: Anger at loss of heart of village

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ANGRY councillors have hit out at plans to close a struggling primary school.

ANGRY councillors have hit out at plans to close a struggling primary school.Northamptonshire County Council is proposing Barnwell Primary School, in Barnwell, near Oundle, should shut in June following a disastrous Ofsted inspection.

If the council decides to close the school, the 20 children who attend it will be have to be taken by bus into Oundle to attend Oundle Primary School.

This news has outraged councillors from Barnwell Parish Council and East Northamptonshire District Council, who believe the closure will damage the town.

Councillor Sue North, from the district council, said: "The closure of the school would take the heart out of the village.

"It would affect the village shop, and would mean more traffic as parents ferry their children to schools elsewhere.

"We all want to see communities in rural areas sustained, not deprived of their assets."

Cllr North believes Northamptonshire County Council is contradicting itself by proposing the school should close.

She said: "Closure goes against the county council's own School Organisation Plan 2003/2004, which says it recognises that a number of schools with surplus capacity serve relatively isolated village communities where it would be be inappropriate to consider closure.

"Local people have not been consulted on this at all."

Councillors are now turning their thoughts to teachers and the children who will be affected by the closure.

Cllr Fred Dudley, chairman of Barnwell Parish Council, said: "Teachers at the school were promised a period of support for 12 months, but after only six months they are having the rug pulled out from under them.

"But most of all, it is unfair to the parents and children at Barnwell School to deprive them of what, given a little time, would be a first class education within their own community"

Simon Deacon, a spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council, said: "This proposal has been put forward because its recent Ofsted report highlighted serious weaknesses.

"As a result, it is thought the educational needs of the children would be better served elsewhere."

Roundabout plan for village scrapped

A LONG-awaited plan to build a roundabout in Barnwell, near Oundle, has also been scrapped.

This comes at the same time that villagers have found out that the local primary school could shut in June.

Leader of East Northamptonshire District Council, Cllr John Richardson, said: "The junction is highly dangerous, which was recognised by the county council, and the roundabout was deemed necessary to make it safer.

"To axe these plans means a broken promise for the people of Barnwell and the surrounding area."