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Campaigners collect more than 1,000 signatures opposing Catholic school plan
Councillors will hold a second debate over plans for the Catholic Church to run a new voluntary-aided secondary school, after a campaign group collected more than 1,000 signatures opposing the proposals.
The Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign launched an online petition on August 2 and took less than a month to reach the threshold.
Richmond Council, which is still verifying all the signatures, looks set to discuss the plans at a full meeting on Tuesday, September 13.
More than 1,000 people signed a petition supporting the proposals earlier this year - triggering the first debate - and Lord True, leader of Richmond Council, announced in July the authority would buy the Richmond Adult Community College site, in Clifden Road, Twickenham, for a new school.
He said he hoped the church would be able to move in by 2013.
Jeremy Rodell, campaign co-ordinator for the Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign, said he was pleased the group had gained so many supporters.
He said: “It just proves what we’ve been saying all along, that once people wake up to this there’s a lot of very strong feeling about it.”
The council has faced growing pressure for a new secondary school due to Richmond’s steadily rising birth rate, which increased from 2,384 in 2000 to 2,992 last year.
Mr Rodell said children should not be denied a place because of their parents’ religion or beliefs and Richmond’s Liberal Democrat group has also argued the Catholic archdioceses’ should not get the site “at the expense of community secondary school provision”.
Lord True, who has registered as an interest that he is a trustee of the Sir Harold Hood’s Charitable Trust, which aims to benefit Catholic charities, said he hoped Education Secretary Michael Gove would grant the church permission to run what would be its only secondary school in the borough.
Mr Rodell said: “Our aim is not to say ‘you can never have a Catholic school’. We are saying that, with all the pressures, the first priority should be an inclusive school and what they are doing should be the bottom priority.
“We think logical arguments should lead the cabinet to come to the right decision.
“That may be rather fanciful but that’s the only democratic process.”