Clifden Road site cost Richmond Council £8.45m

Richmond and Twickenham Times: Clifden Road site cost Richmond Council £8.45m Clifden Road site cost Richmond Council £8.45m

The Clifden Road site was bought for £8.45m and the sale completed yesterday, it has been revealed.

Richmond Council bought the site from Richmond Adult community College (RACC), which currently runs the college from the site in Twickenham.

Contracts were exchanged for the site earlier this year but final completion was subject to a number of conditions, including RACC obtaining necessary Skills Funding Agency consent and the college obtaining approval for additional floor space at its extended site in Parkshot.

However, the decision for the use of the site is mired in a feud between Richmond Council, the British Humanist Association (BHA) and Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign (Risc), which is to be heard in a judicial review at the High Court.

The council wants to lease parts of the site to the Diocese of Westminster for new Catholic primary and secondary schools.

BHA and Risc want the school’s admissions policy to allow more non-Catholics in but will argue in High Court that the procedure the council followed was unlawful.

As part of the conditions that went with the sale, the college will rent part of the site at a peppercorn rent for two years and, to assist its move to Parkshot, the college will rent a part of Old Deer car park to help construction work.

Councillor Geoffrey Samuel, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for finance, property and resources, said: “The site will enable a wider diversity of school provision in the Twickenham area and, subject to the ongoing judicial review process, will likely enable us to meet the council’s longstanding wish to see a Catholic secondary school established within the borough.

“I would like to thank the college for its support and work on this deal over the past year and hope that our efforts to support their move to the Parkshot site will assist with improving adult education in the borough even further. This is a good deal for the council, a good deal for the college but most important of all a good deal for education in the borough.”

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3:15pm Wed 12 Sep 12

PhillipTaylor says...

Cllr Samuel is absolutely right- this is good news and an excellent step forward for education services in the Borough whatever the "Old Devils" in the BHA have to say!

Phillip Taylor
Cllr Samuel is absolutely right- this is good news and an excellent step forward for education services in the Borough whatever the "Old Devils" in the BHA have to say! Phillip Taylor PhillipTaylor
  • Score: 0

12:17am Thu 13 Sep 12

JeremyRodell says...

No one is arguing with the benefit to the borough of securing the site for school provision - that's indeed good news (though it remains unclear why the cost was kept secret for over a year - it's our money after all).

The issue is whether this £8.5 million site/buildings should be given away fre for the next 125 years (the length of the proposed lease) for a taxpayer-funded Catholic secondary school that will be effectively closed to local children whose parents are Anglicans, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists or anything other than Catholics. That's especially the case as two new community secondary schools are likely to be needed between 2014 and 2017. So giving away the only currently-available site for an exclusive school is grossly irresponsible.

If RISC and the BHA win the court case, there might still be a Catholic academy/free school, but it would be limited to 50% faith-based selection. That's still too much, but better than up to100%. We know the only reason a Voluntary Aided school was proposed in the first place - despite the Council's pro-academy/free school policy - was to secure the maximum level of exclusivity in admissions. That can't be right.

The BHA are only involved in the legal case because they think the case has national implications. That's RISC's good fortune as there's no way we could afford to take it on, even if - as we believe - what the Council is doing is unlawful.

The High Court has decided that there is a real issue here that merits a Judicial Review. Presumably no-one, including Mr Taylor, would support Council action that is unlawful. So it's right that the legality is tested.
No one is arguing with the benefit to the borough of securing the site for school provision - that's indeed good news (though it remains unclear why the cost was kept secret for over a year - it's our money after all). The issue is whether this £8.5 million site/buildings should be given away fre for the next 125 years (the length of the proposed lease) for a taxpayer-funded Catholic secondary school that will be effectively closed to local children whose parents are Anglicans, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists or anything other than Catholics. That's especially the case as two new community secondary schools are likely to be needed between 2014 and 2017. So giving away the only currently-available site for an exclusive school is grossly irresponsible. If RISC and the BHA win the court case, there might still be a Catholic academy/free school, but it would be limited to 50% faith-based selection. That's still too much, but better than up to100%. We know the only reason a Voluntary Aided school was proposed in the first place - despite the Council's pro-academy/free school policy - was to secure the maximum level of exclusivity in admissions. That can't be right. The BHA are only involved in the legal case because they think the case has national implications. That's RISC's good fortune as there's no way we could afford to take it on, even if - as we believe - what the Council is doing is unlawful. The High Court has decided that there is a real issue here that merits a Judicial Review. Presumably no-one, including Mr Taylor, would support Council action that is unlawful. So it's right that the legality is tested. JeremyRodell
  • Score: 0

7:31am Fri 14 Sep 12

gaurav says...

After a year of hiding the costs, the Council has said that it spent £8.5 million of taxpayers’ money on the only currently-available secondary school site in the borough. We should all benefit from this significant investment - the site should be used for an inclusive school that will definitely be needed in the coming years. Instead the Council has decided to lease it, for 125 years at no charge, for exclusive, state-funded Catholic schools. We believe the Council is acting unlawfully under the new Education Act. The law says that a Council that thinks it needs a new school first to seek proposals for an academy/free school, which would be limited to a maximum of 50% faith-based selection. Ironically Lord True supported the Education Bill in the House of Lords, saying “I am also the leader of a London borough that welcomes academies and free schools.”. His administration has encouraged the conversion of existing secondaries to academies.
RISC now has permission from the High Court for a Judicial Review. Our lawyers will robustly challenge the Council's decisions and the judge's verdict will have significant local and national implications. We are confident that the judgement will validate the democratic intent of ensuring inclusivity in faith schools through the legislation.
After a year of hiding the costs, the Council has said that it spent £8.5 million of taxpayers’ money on the only currently-available secondary school site in the borough. We should all benefit from this significant investment - the site should be used for an inclusive school that will definitely be needed in the coming years. Instead the Council has decided to lease it, for 125 years at no charge, for exclusive, state-funded Catholic schools. We believe the Council is acting unlawfully under the new Education Act. The law says that a Council that thinks it needs a new school first to seek proposals for an academy/free school, which would be limited to a maximum of 50% faith-based selection. Ironically Lord True supported the Education Bill in the House of Lords, saying “I am also the leader of a London borough that welcomes academies and free schools.”. His administration has encouraged the conversion of existing secondaries to academies. RISC now has permission from the High Court for a Judicial Review. Our lawyers will robustly challenge the Council's decisions and the judge's verdict will have significant local and national implications. We are confident that the judgement will validate the democratic intent of ensuring inclusivity in faith schools through the legislation. gaurav
  • Score: 0

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