A ROW has broken out over £17million plans for a new school building in Southampton.

Fears over school staff redundancies and declining numbers of required school places were expressed at a key meeting over Hope Community School.

But following hours of debate over the Department for Education proposals, city bosses backed the decision to sell the land off Lime Street.

The building is planned to become the new home for Hope Community School, which is currently in temporary accommodation.

Read more here:

As well as a new home for Hope Community School, which is currently in temporary accommodation, it would double the school’s size.

But now concerns have been raised by education representatives as well as the opposition.

A report published earlier this month said that “Southampton currently has a surplus of primary school places” and “there is a minimal risk” of redundancies at schools close by.

A council scrutiny meeting on Wednesday night heard concerns from Kirsten Buist, chair of the Primary Heads Group. She said: “There’s clear indication of the decline in the number of places needed.

“This decline in places already meant that twelve schools have had to reduce their pupil admission numbers this year, removing 312 primary places with more to follow, impacting schools financially and making staff redundant as a result.”

Despite this though, cabinet members voted to back the plans and not follow the recommendation to defer the decision whilst more data was gathered.

Daily Echo: Councillor Jeremy Moulton.Councillor Jeremy Moulton.

Deputy council leader and cabinet member for growth, Cllr Jeremy Moulton told the Echo the new school is a “superb opportunity” for existing and future Hope School pupils.

When asked about possible redundancies at nearby schools, he said: “I think that’s a very low risk because of the growth in housing numbers and the extra demand that there will be for pupil places.

“The greater risk would have been if we didn’t provide (Hope School) with a permanent building, the future viability of that school would be at risk.”

He went on to say that the council will work with surrounding schools to support them if they do experience budget pressures.

But leader of the opposition, Cllr Satvir Kaur, said: “It’s a real concern that time and time again this Conservative council are refusing to base their decisions on evidence.

“They claim new housing in the city centre means this expansion must go ahead, yet they could not produce any evidence to support this, with the council’s own pupil forecast projections rejecting this.”

She said the council is “gambling” with the futures of nearby schools, while Cllr Darren Paffey, Labour’s education spokesperson added: “The Tories’ high-handed approach to this decision is an insult to the headteachers who came to the meeting to raise valid concerns.

“The Cabinet trash expert advice but remain confident in their own finger-in-the-air opinions about where and when school places might be needed. This is a deeply worrying sign of how they’re running the city.”