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Councillor expresses cash fear as Gayton school plan is backed

A West Norfolk village could lose millions of pounds in funding for a new primary school if the current proposal does not proceed, a councillor has warned.

Access and traffic issues dominated the debate as plans for the development in Gayton were discussed at a packed parish council meeting last night.

But, following nearly two hours of debate, members voted to back the plan, with some reservations, after former borough councillor Alistair Beales outlined his fears if the scheme did not progress now.

Alistair Beales, right, says he fears millions of pounds of funding for a new school in Gayton could be lost if a new plan doesn't progress.
Alistair Beales, right, says he fears millions of pounds of funding for a new school in Gayton could be lost if a new plan doesn't progress.

He said the school had nearly three times as many pupils on roll now on the same site as when his daughter first went there a decade ago.

He went on: “We have got five or six million ringfenced.

“My fear is that if this application doesn’t move forward, we will lose that money. I’m amazed we haven’t lost it already.”

Gayton - Village Sign. (26303663)
Gayton - Village Sign. (26303663)

County education chiefs are now proposing to build a 210-place school, plus a nursery with provision for 56 children, at West Hall Farm, off Springvale, after plans for their preferred site at the corner of Back Street and Winch Road had to be scrapped.

But many people living near the site say they are worried about the potential impact on their lives from increased traffic movements.

And several councillors and residents alike called for amendments to be made to the plans as they were presented during the session at the village’s Jubilee Hall.

Questions were raised about issues including cycling provision and whether additional pedestrian access points could be created.

Peter Gidney (9154439)
Peter Gidney (9154439)

And one councillor, Paul Savage, said there should be a rethink over the decision not to allow coaches onto the site at all.

Neil Attwell told the meeting: “We have got to have something that works for us all.”

Earlier, Mr Beales threatened to make a formal complaint if another parish councillor, Peter Gidney, took part in the vote on the school proposal.

He argued that Mr Gidney had a prejudicial interest as a neighbour of the proposed site and should, therefore, not be present when the vote was taken.

But Mr Gidney said he had taken legal advice and was told he did not need to make such a declaration.

Although he did not take part in the vote, he said he would look into why his “democratic right was questioned.”

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