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Woodlands Meed Campaigners Hold A Protest Ahead Of Crucial Council Meeting About The Potential New College Building

4th December 2019 | By Peter Chapman

Campaigners made themselves heard loud and clear outside County Hall North in Horsham on a bitterly cold Wednesday morning as the battle for Woodlands Meed SEN School continued.



Ahead of the scheduled Children and Young People's Services Select Committee meeting which featured an agenda item about Woodlands Meed, a number of supporters congregated outside the main entrance to the building with placards, banners and even a P.A system to bring attention to the near decade-long battle to see a fit-for-purpose building approved for 14-19 year olds.



The Complete Woodlands Meed campaign group were joined by parents, friends and political figures as for 45 minutes they made ther voices heard with chants and a number of prominant musical tracks. The protest garnered plenty of media attention with the TV cameras from ITV among those in attendance to cover the event.

Video: BHU's Live Facebook Broadcast Of The Protest:



It was thought that the battle was won in February when £20 million was added to the capital program in order to provide a new college, only for WSCC to declare later in the year that they sought to do a review of their SEN provision and that of the current college building.


Cllr David Barling (Chair) and Cllr Kirsty Lord (Vice-Chair) were taking no prisoners as they sought to get answers from officers and the relevant cabinet member.

Today's select committee heard evidence from Chair of Governors Marion Wilcock and Campaign representative Karen George before deciding on a recommendation for Cllr Nigel Jupp - Cabinet member for Education and Skills.


Karen George (left) and Marion Wilcock ( second left)

Four options are on the table, two of which would see a complete new building, with students able to stay on site while the college would be built on the school field. There's two price points, one for 100 pupils, the other for 136 pupils. Although the 136 pupil option is more expensive than the budgeted £20 million, it works out cheaper per pupil and could be the more logical choice given the rise in population that Mid Sussex will be seeing over the next decade.


Paul Marshall - The new leader of West Sussex County Council

New County Council leader Paul Marshall was in attendance and called WSCC's handling of the Woodlands Meed situation as being 'embarassing'.



The committee backed the option of a new building, but the Council Leader has perhaps put a sting in the tail by saying he'd like Cllr Jupp to have an independent report into the current building and the finances before the cabinet make a decision which he wants made by the end of January.

The wait goes on....

Links

The webcast for the meeting can be found here: https://westsussex.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/452977/start_time/113000.....

The background paper can be downloaded here: https://westsussex.moderngov.co.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=12933

A more significant report of the day's proceedings will appear here in the coming days, there's lots to cover!

Spread the word! Woodlands Meed Campaigners have held a protest!

Got an opinion on this story? Leave a comment below.....
What do you think will be the outcome?




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