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Parents enraged at loss of school field; Pledge to fight plans for fire station on site.

Byline: Brian Daniel

SCHOOL governors are calling for urgent talks with council bosses after land they regard as their school field was earmarked for development. The site, beside Prudhoe West First School in Northumberland, has been used for years for school sports and environmental studies classes.

But now it has been allocated as land for a new fire station in the Tyne Valley town, with planning permission granted last week.

The decision has enraged parents as well as town councillors in Prudhoe, who say the land was signed over to the fire service by Northumberland County Council without their knowledge.

Governors chairman Neil Paxton said: "The view of the governors is we are going to fight it as much as we can.

"We are trying to get a meeting with the most senior people in the council and ask them why they did this behind our backs."

Prudhoe Town Council says no notice of the planning application was placed in the local press and that signs were not initially erected at the field, even though it is classed as a green space.

The council believes the fire service rushed through the application in order to meet a deadline to qualify for the Department for Communities and Local Government funding. Council chairman Jennifer McGee said: "I am all in favour of the fire service creating these new community fire stations, but I do believe they have fallen well short of what they should have been doing.

"This must have been going on for months. We believe there was not enough consultation on it and it was not done properly."

Parents of pupils at the school are angry about the loss of the field.

Graham Robinson, 39, whose seven-year-old son Richard goes to the school said: "I think it is an absolute disgrace. It seemed to happen really quickly, it kind of crept up on people all of a sudden."

And eight-year-old Reuben Biju, who is in year three at the school, wrote a letter to the headteacher protesting against the development of the field.

His letter stated: "I don't like it to be on the field. Try and stop them from building the fire station please."

Rob Clow, the fire service's strategy, transition and projects manager, said the county council had not allocated the site as a playing field, and that Sport England does not regard it as such.

He admitted the service had to submit a business case and secure outline approval for a site by this month to qualify for the Government funding, and said that the new station will take up only 40% of the field.

The service is consulting with the school and the wider community over what use the remainder can be put to.

CAPTION(S):

BATTLE Parents want to keep the field at Prudhoe West First School FIELD OF DREAMS Reuben Biju, eight, left, and Richard Robinson, seven, on the field in Prudhoe where the council want to build a fire station
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 17, 2010
Words:497
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