Bedford Today reports that Bedford Free School, which opened in September, has been granted planning permission on appeal. The school opened in Cauldwell House in Cauldwell Street but planning permission was refused by Bedford Council supposedly because of traffic concerns.
It was always pretty obvious that the council was acting out of ideological prejudice in refusing permission. At the planning committee in August the Labour and Lib Dem councillors opposed the school – even though the planning officer had recommended acceptance the school having fulfilled all the (ludicrously onerous and bureaucratic) requirements. The school opened anyway as the appeal was pursued but the council was able to pitch a message of uncertainty.
Ian Pryce, the chairman of governors at the school, said:
“Our research showed this was a school the community wanted and our first year intake reflected that. There were legitimate questions to be asked about the effect of the school on local traffic but changes in college activity meant there are now fewer people moving across Cauldwell Street."
So the efforts of Labour and Lib Dem councillors to deny parental choice and keep down educational standards have been squashed. The people who will pay for the spite are the Council Taxpayers who will face a legal bill of thousands dues to the council stringing out the planning process in this quite improper manner.
A spokesman for Bedford Borough Council said:
“The Free School has been granted by planning permission by the Secretary of State. This overrules the decision taken locally.”
Quite absurd spinning. Eric Pickles merely agreed with the independent planning inspector, that the school was within the rules. For the Council to present it as a defeat for localism is absurd.