Both sides hope for favourable rul­ing

School plans to start new term be­fore de­ci­sion made about its fu­ture in Stoke Po­ges

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Jo-Anne Rowney jo-anne.rowney@trin­i­tymir­

A DE­CI­SION about whether a con­tro­ver­sial free school can stay on what has so far been a tem­po­rary site will be made by Septem­ber.

A hear­ing into the fu­ture of Khalsa Se­condary School, in Holly­bush Hill, Stoke Po­ges, was held on July 10 and 11 at South Bucks District Coun­cil.

In­spec­tor Ava Woods lis­tened to cam­paign­ers, and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the coun­cil and Khalsa School, to help her pre­pare a re­port which will be sent to the Sec­re­tary of State for Com­mu­ni­ties and Lo­cal Govern­ment, Eric Pick­les.

The school opened in Septem­ber last year, de­spite con­cerns by cam­paign­ers re­gard­ing traf­fic and noise, and claims that the school was not needed.

It has now been con­firmed by the plan­ning in­spec­torate that a de­ci­sion is ex­pected on or be­fore Septem­ber 17.

The an­nounce­ment fol­lows com­ments by Nick Kan­dola, chair­man of Slough Sikh Trust, that there is no need for an al­ter­na­tive plan, as he is con­fi­dent that the de­ci­sion will be in favour of the Khalsa School and the De­part­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion (DfE).

A DfE spokesman said: “We aren’t ex­pect­ing a ver­dict im­mi­nently; it is most likely to be around Septem­ber or a bit af­ter the chil­dren go back to school.”

The school plans to start the new term on Septem­ber 5 (prob­a­bly be­fore the de­ci­sion has been an­nounced).

Cam­paign­ers have said they hope the de­ci­sion will bring an end to a long-run­ning cam­paign to have the school moved out of their vil­lage.

Saera Carter, vice-chair­woman of Stoke Po­ges Parish Coun­cil, said: “I have con­tacted the Ed­u­ca­tion Fund­ing Agency [an agency of the DfE] and it has said it is hold­ing meet­ings.

“It is up to the EFA, not the school; it is out of their con­trol as it is the DfE that ap­pealed and con­trols the build­ing. The EFA have said they are look­ing at a Plan B in the event it doesn’t go their way, but they are just as con­fi­dent as we are.”

Stoke Po­ges coun­cil­lor Keith Fi­nan speak­ing af­ter the hear­ing said: “If there was a de­ci­sion to be made to­day it would be done and dusted and we could get on with our lives, but it’s not.

“In­stead it will come over in an email or by let­ter.”

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