MP backs campaign to save school playing field in Oundle

Tom Pursglove with Jo Trott and Julie Grove at the school playing field in Oundle
Tom Pursglove with Jo Trott and Julie Grove at the school playing field in Oundle

An MP has shown his support for a campaign to save a school playing field from being sold off.

Just days after the election, Corby and East Northamptonshire MP Tom Pursglove told the Northants Telegraph that he would back campaigners trying to prevent part of the playing field at the Oundle and King’s Cliffe Middle School being sold off.

I think we need more playing fields, not less

Tom Pursglove MP

The new MP has kept to his word by visiting the playing field to speak to campaigners before meeting with the county council to discuss the matter.

The proposed sell-off is due to Oundle Primary School relocating to the middle school site this summer, in time for the next academic year when there will be a switch from the current three-tier education system in Oundle and Thrapston to a two-tier system.

As part of the switch, Northamptonshire County Council has said part of the middle school’s playing fields could be sold off, but this has attracted huge opposition from parents and people living in Oundle.

About 4,000 people have signed a petition against it and Oundle Town Council unanimously opposed the plans at a meeting in April.

The campaigners invited Mr Pursglove along to the playing field today.

Campaign group chairman Julie Grove said the whole community was behind the campaign and added: “The only people who want to see the sale of this land is Northamptonshire County Council.”

Group treasurer Jo Trott said they hoped Mr Pursglove could help them put their case to the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, who has the final say on the sale of school playing fields.

Mr Pursglove, who admitted he had bowled badly while playing cricket on the playing field in the past, praised the campaigners for their efforts in fighting the plans and said: “I think we need more playing fields, not less.”

He said green spaces were important and needed to be protected, especially with the growing problem of obesity.

Mayor for Oundle Paul King also visited the field today and said: “We want to keep this green space.”

A spokesman for the county council said: “As part of the transition to two-tier education, Oundle Primary School is being relocated to the middle school site and the existing buildings will be remodelled and refurbished to create a two-form entry primary school, with capacity to expand to a three-form entry school in the event of future housing development in the area.

“As part of this process, 10 schools in East Northamptonshire including Prince William School will benefit from investment and refurbishment in order to improve educational outcomes for children in the local area.

“These improvements will be made ahead of the start of the new school year in September.

“In Oundle, the transformation from a middle school to a primary school means the current level of outdoor space exceeds that required for the age range and number of pupils attending the primary school.

“Therefore, we are looking into alternative uses for a section of the playing fields. We are working closely with the school and Oundle Town Council, and are taking comments from parents into account as we consider the options.

“Oundle Primary School will have one of the largest primary school sites in the county and we hope the school will continue to allow this space to be available for local community groups and sports clubs to hire.”

The petition can be found at tinyurl.com/oundlefield.

For more details about the campaign go to https://www.facebook.com/OPSProtectOurSchool.