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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Leeds Councillors speak out against possible school closure

Councillors have spoken out against the proposed closure of a north Leeds primary school.

Campaigners are fighting to save Queensway Primary School in Yeadon, after the council unveiled a plan to shut it, because of a drop in the birth rate and the number of school-aged kids in the area.

A four-week consultation over the move is ongoing.

Cllr Ryk Downes

But Otley and Yeadon councillor Ryk Downes said he was “strongly opposed” to the idea and that he was backing the petition to save the school.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Downes said: “It’s irresponsible for the council to have come straight out with this, because it means parents will now be reluctant to send their child to Queensway in the meantime, if they think they’ll have to move them again mid-school.

“Closing the school therefore becomes a self-fulflling prophecy.”

Councillor Downes added: “If within five years of closing the school, we have to build another one because the population of local children has risen again, that will cost so much more than just keeping the school running.

“We need to drill down into the numbers and understand them fully, rather than just the council simply going, ‘Fait accompli, this is what we believe and closing the school down’.”

The school sits on the border between Yeadon and Guiseley, with pupils coming from both communities.

Cllr Paul Alderson

Conservative councillor for Guiseley and Rawdon, Paul Alderson said: “It is clear from the reaction of the school and from local parents that the council has got this process wrong and I have to say from our point of view there has simply not been enough communication about the possibility of this school closing, which is hugely disappointing.

“As it is, we see plenty of reasons for Queensway to continue, not least its long-standing popularity, but also the support it provides to pupils with additional support requirements.”

His Conservative ward colleague Paul Wadsworth said the planned closure had come as a “surprise” to him as much as the school.

He added: “What I do know is that Queensway has served this community for many years and is a much-loved and valued local school.

“And of course, we have been here before with the council closing schools but then needing the places a matter of a few years later.

“It is really disappointing to see this consultation and we are opposed to the plans to close this important community school.”

Cllr Eleanor Thomson

But Labour councillor for Guiseley and Rawdon, Eleanor Thomson said the situation was “really, really difficult” and urged parents and those affected to respond to the consultation.

She said: “There are no good options here.

“The fundamental problem is we have too many primary school places for the number of children coming into the area.

“Looking at the next few years, we going to really struggle to fund our primary schools with the number of children we have.

“We want the consultation to work as well as it can and to make sure people’s voices heard.

“We’ve got to do the best we can. There’s no easy answer.”

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