Unanimous vote against sale of Oundle school fields

The campaigners on the playing fields
The campaigners on the playing fields

Oundle’s annual town meeting has unanimously backed the campaign opposed to the selling of part of the playing fields at the Kings Cliffe Middle School site.

About 250 people went along to the meeting, making it the best-attended town meeting for 15 years.

The vote came after presentations from both Cllr Matt Golby, county cabinet member for education, and Julie Grove, chairman of the group opposed to the sale.

She said: “It was quite a night really.

“Cllr Heather Smith was supposed to be there.

“She is deputy chairman of Northamptonshire County Council, she’s also responsible for children’s services, and the county councillor for Oundle.

The meeting in Oundle

The meeting in Oundle

“But she said she couldn’t come because of a conference she was due to attend.

“She sent Cllr Matt Golby instead.

“After we made our statements there were many questions from the public but he wasn’t able to answer many of them. It was quite worrying.

“People were asking about the funding, where was the money coming from, what was it being spent on.

“But he didn’t know. People were asking for total costings, but when he couldn’t say people accused the county council of lazy budgeting.”

The meeting was asked if it supported the motion: “Oundle town meeting 2015 supports the campaign group to oppose the sale of the playing fields”.

The vote was unanimously in support of the motion and the campaigners.

Julie said: “We’ve got Oundle Town Council on our side, we’ve got our district councillors’ support, both the Labour and Conservative parliamentary candidates are against the sale.

“We’ve got the backing of the leader of the Labour opposition on the county council.

“We’re now waiting to see who becomes our MP as we will have a meeting with them to see what they can do.”

In 2014, Northamptonshire County Council announced the decision to change the structure of education provision in Oundle, Thrapston, Kings Cliffe and the surrounding areas.

As a result of the decision, Oundle Primary School will expand from its current Reception to Year 4 provision to a Reception to Year 6 school and will move to the site of Oundle and Kings Cliffe Middle School.

As part of the switch of sites, the county council said it wants to sell off about 23 per cent of the middle school site – equivalent to about half its outdoor space.

A petition against the sale has so far received around 3,500 signatures.

You can sign it online at www.playingfields.org.uk.