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Residents gearing up for fight to keep secondary school open
5:06pm Thursday 26th September 2013 in News
A CAMPAIGN is being launched to save a former pit village’s secondary school from closure.
People in Pelton, Newfield and neighbouring communities north west of Chester-le-Street, fear that Durham County Council will shut Roseberry College and Sixth Form.
Resident suspect it is a “done deal” but officials say consultation is just starting and no decision has been made.
School governor Mandy Hall started a Facebook page (supportroseberry) on Wednesday and soon had over 630 “likes’’.
As well as the impact on pupils – who would have to attend schools in Chester-le-Street or Stanley - she is worried because the school provides out-of-hours facilities and activities for youngsters.
“If we lose the school, we lose the heart of the community because there are no other facilities in the area,’’ she said.
Mrs Hall said more than 270 new homes had only recently been built at Newfield, a development hailed as helping secure the school’s future.
She said: “The consultation is “we are closing the school and here is where your kids can go’’.”
North Durham MP Kevan Jones branded consultation a “sham’’ and said the proposal had come “out of the blue’’.
He said: “In the consultation document they say it is because of a fall in numbers but there appears to have been no consultation with anybody.
“It seems to be a fait accompli, that they have decided to close the school.
“It is pretty shocking that they haven’t seen fit to consult the local community before now.”
Mr Jones said the council should look at alternatives and consider future population growth.
“The council seem to have a very arrogant, top down attitude to the community and, rather than involving them, seems to be telling them what’s going on.”
The council’s head of education, Caroline O’Neill said: “A definite decision on whether to close Roseberry College and Sixth Form has not been taken and we are just about to begin a period of consultation.”
She said the school had room for 1,000 pupils but only 300 on its rolls, while other schools had spare places.
“Therefore we need to decide if it is viable to keep Roseberry open," she said.
Officials will hold meetings for parents and people have until November 8 to tell County Hall their views.
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