Knebworth villagers to vote on Free School plans

CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a new secondary school in Times Territory will be put to a public vote this week.

Knebworth Parish Council is holding a two week-long survey for residents to give their views on proposals to build a community-run Free School for 800 students somewhere in the Knebworth and Woolmer Green area, as put forward by campaign group We Need A School (WNAS).

The WNAS scheme was given approval to progress to a business case stage by the Government in January – but has been actively opposed by many residents living in the area.

Opposition groups Preserve Knebworth and Save Woolmer Green have both been set up in defiance of the proposals, saying a secondary school in the area would damage the community’s rural ideal.

A petition by the Save Woolmer Green group has so far attracted almost 2,000 signatures, while an unofficial Preserve Knebworth poll of 200 villagers recently revealed 97 per cent of them were against the plan.

The parish council’s poll will ask residents on the parish electoral roll whether they are in favour of a school being built within one-and-a-half miles of the centre of the village.

Ballot boxes will be set up at the village hall from 9am to 1pm on Saturday, and at Knebworth railway station and St Martins Green during the survey period.

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Votes will also be collected at the library and at Village News in Station Road.

WNAS has consistently denied an exact location for the school has been decided.

Parish council chairman John Bantwick said: “Knebworth Parish Council is holding the survey in order to ascertain the wishes of the people it represents in relation to the possible siting of a school in the nearby vicinity.

“This will inform our collective opinion if a site near Knebworth is chosen. For now the parish council remains strictly neutral in its opinions relating to the WNAS campaign.”