MP and councillors add to growing protests against plans to close school

Parents fighting to prevent their school from being closed have expressed delight after receiving support from parish councillors and their MP.

Friday, 3rd December 2021, 9:00 am
Parent Vicki Bester who spoke against the plans to close Seaton Sluice Middle School at a Seaton Valley Parish Council meeting.

Plans had been drawn up to close Seaton Sluice Middle School and move it to a site shared by Whytrig Middle School and Astley High School in Seaton Delaval.

The proposals had been drawn up by the Seaton Valley Federation, who govern the three schools, with a consultation being run by Northumberland County Council.

But a 500-strong campaign group has opposed the plans, saying no new site had been identified for the schools, while one site for all three schools would create major traffic problems.

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The consultation ended on Wednesday, with parents being supported by Seaton Valley Parish Council and Blyth Valley MP who expressed their opposition to the plans.

In a packed meeting last week at New Hartley Memorial Hall, Seaton Valley parish councillors heard from parent Vicki Bester who outlined the concerns.

Seghill with Seaton Delaval parish councillor Eve Chicken argued strongly against the merger and highlighted the impact on the village of Seaton Delaval if it went ahead.

She said: “There would be a huge increase in traffic and car parking problems.

"It is an ill-conceived idea from Seaton Valley Federation, and they have completely misjudged the views of parents and residents.

“In my view, the Parish Council have come to the right conclusion for Seaton Valley and what must now happen is a discussion on how the £30m plus of investment that the County Council has in place for schools in our area is spent.

"The reaction to the consultation was predicted from the outset and it has needlessly held up progress.”

This week, Mr Levy said: "The merger not being backed by Seaton Valley Councillors is very significant and means it cannot go ahead.

"The local councillors clearly listened to the same parents and residents who have been in touch with me to highlight their very valid concerns.

"Investment in the Astley and Whytrig site in Seaton Delaval has previously been agreed by the County Council and that must now go ahead."

Reacting to the outcome, Vicki said: “I outlined our concerns which include that we have a school which is very popular and has a ‘Good’ Ofsted rating. There is simply no justification for it to be closed.

“I have spoken to hundreds of parents and not one is in favour of the proposal from Seaton Valley Federation who govern the school as well as the middle school and high school in Seaton Delaval.

“Shiny new classrooms do not improve teaching standards and with some modest investment there is no reason why Seaton Sluice Middle School cannot continue to provide an excellent education for children from the village, Hartley, Seghill and parts of Blyth for decades to come.

“I was very pleased that the Councillors listened and unanimously agreed that their preferred position is investment in Seaton Sluice Middle School and the lack of clarity regarding the new school’s location in Seaton Delaval meant the merger could not be supported.”