Anger over plans for closed Potters Bar school

PLANS to reopen a Potters Bar school as a centre for expelled students have been slammed by parents who originally battled to keep the site open.

Proposals to move The Park Educational Support Centre (ESC) in Hatfield to the former site of Sunny Bank Primary School have been sent out for public consultation by Hertfordshire County Council.

The ESC, which provides mainstream education for year seven to nine students who have been excluded or are at risk of exclusion, is being moved from its current location in New Barnfield ahead of a proposed redevelopment of the site.

It accommodates a maximum of just 20 pupils at any one time.

The council says the Sunny Bank site, in Field View Road, is “accessible by public transport” and is closer to The Park’s Key Stage Four provision in High Street, “allowing for easier management across the two sites”.

But the plans have been blasted by former Sunny Bank parents, who fought a two-year battle to keep the school open before it finally closed in 2008.

Former Sunny Bank chair of governors Diane Merrill, whose three children all attended the school, said: “The county council closed the school because in their view the buildings were past their useful life, the site was too big to allow 200 children to remain there, and the Sunnybank estate was the home of mainly older residents, so the area was not providing the need for a school.

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“Why is it now OK to only accommodate a maximum of 20 children?

“Why is the site not past its useful life any more, and why should elderly residents have the worry of excluded pupils hanging around their estate?

“There are other much smaller disused sites, which are far nearer transport links.”

Following Sunny Bank’s closure, students were relocated to Cranborne School in Laurel Fields, off Mutton Lane.

Mrs Merrill said the school was “far too small” for all the students, with parents unable to attend whole school assemblies because there is not enough room.

“I’m not having a go at Cranborne because it’s not their fault – it’s county’s,” she added.

“This is totally unfair and a complete waste of public money.”

A county council spokeswoman said only the infant school site would be used, and added: “The reason we closed Sunny Banks was because of a shortfall of pupils, not because the building was unusable.”

The consultation is open from now until January 15. For more information call 0300 123 4043 or click on the link above.