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Council votes down bid to save Deanes
6:00am Thursday 12th December 2013 in Echo News
HOPES of saving the Deanes school are fading fast after a motion for the closure to be stopped was voted down by Essex county councillors.
The Deanes school in Daws Heath Road, Thundersley, is set to shut in August 2016 after Essex County Council’s Conservative cabinet said falling pupil numbers had made the school unviable.
Yesterday a full council meeting was held at County Hall to hear a motion calling for the closure to be stopped and for the council to go ahead with plans to build a new school, in partnership with Glenwood Special Needs school, on the Deanes site.
However, despite pleas from members of all parties to save the school, the motion was defeated.
Julie Young, a Labour councillor for Colchester, introduced her motion by quoting the late Nelson Mandela by saying: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
She added: “Two schools and one site could be realised. We all know that closing this school would affect many in south Essex.”
The motion called on the council to express “deep concern” over the closure decision and said the cabinet had “neglected” the “pivotal role the co-location would have played in the area”.
However, despite the motion calling for a halt to the plans, it was voted down by 33 votes to 38, with one member abstaining and one councillor absent.
All is not yet lost for Deanes as its heirachy has applied to the Government for academy status, which would take it out of Essex County Council control.
Councillors opposed to the closure said this gave the school some hope.
Malcolm Buckley, Conservative county councillor for Wickford Crouch, said: “I hope the application for this school to become an academy is approved – Deanes has something very special. It offers the opportunity of a small school which can bring out the talents in its pupils.”
Alan Bayley, Ukip member for South Benfleet, added: “The cabinet has to decide to keep Deanes open. Why is the council not supporting academy status?
“It would relieve cabinet of the responsibility of the school and give parents more choice.”
The word choice was echoed by fellow Ukip member Kerry Smith, who said constituents from his Basildon Westley Heights ward wanted the school saved.
He said: “There must be a reason why parents from my area want to send their kids through rush hour traffic to the school.
“The population is going to go up in south Essex. We need more schools. Where are we going to find land to build a new school instead?
“We might rue the day we closed Deanes. We need more choice.”
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