Can you share the number of parents who attended the Council's pre-consultation meeting on the 16th of January?
The pre-consultation meeting was an open meeting where parents were not required to pre-register in order to attend or complete a register on the day; although I know that some parents did.
However, the meeting was successful in reaching out to a significant proportion of the school community who filled the Maiden Erlegh School hall and were able to express their views clearly. I was there and the hall was pretty jam packed with many people standing at the back as well and down the sides.
There were plans of the proposals available to view and a slide presentation and information on rationale for the proposals presented. There was an opportunity for a great number of questions to be asked from the floor and responded to by the number of Officers from the different departments represented as well. I am sorry that I don’t have the precise numbers for you but if you were there you will know that there was a significant number of people.
There was a significant lack of meaningful dialogue in the course of the Aldryngton expansion process. Many residents and parents felt that their voices were not heard although they have written numerous e-mails, submitted objections to the planning application and attended the pre-consultation meeting in January. The Council promised in the pre-consultation meeting to take note of the parents’ and residents’ comments and ensure that they were properly considered.
However according to the response to the Freedom of Information request No 8461 there has been no meeting which has taken place to discuss the concerns raised. By the time the pre-consultation meeting was held the statutory consultation was already scheduled to commence the following week and we did not see any change whatsoever made to the proposal based on the numerous concerns and questions raised during the meeting. Can we trust that you will engage the school, parents and residents at a more appropriate stage if the Council is to propose the expansion of Aldryngton again any time in the future?
My commitment is that if this proposal goes ahead any time in the future we will have a meaningful consultation again and engage parents and, of course, the school and I have already promised that.
In terms of engagement over the consultation I would say there has been meaningful consultation and we have listened to the views of everyone. The majority of the views have obviously been against this proposal and a small number of views have come in, both via the consultation and e-mails, in favour of this proposal. We take consultation extremely seriously and I am somewhat amazed that you feel it has not been taken seriously and you feel there was a lack of meaningful dialogue. In terms of change from listening to the school and listening to parents there have been significant changes to even the proposals that went to the Planning Committee from the initial proposals of what the planning would look like to what was eventually taken through to the Planning Committee a couple of weeks back. So if this proposal does go through at any point in the future as a proposal and recommendation then, of course, we will be going back through this plan again and I am sure you will take part in the next round of consultation.