�4m to create new school places

MORE than �4million will be spent on providing more primary school places in Portishead.

North Somerset Council hopes to create an extra 210 places at schools in the town, which has seen its population soar due to numerous new housing developments.

This afternoon (Tues) the authority’s executive approved proposals to spend �1.18million in the next financial year to kick start the project, with plans to spend a further �1million in each of the 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16 financial years.

The scheme will be carried out in two phases but it has not yet been decided where the new places will be introduced.

The council’s executive member for children and young people’s services, Jeremy Blatchford, said: “To build a new school from scratch would cost about �8-9million.

“We are trying to use existing real estate and buildings to kill two birds with one stone.”

The new places will be additional to the 210 extra places already created by expanding Trinity Primary School in the Village Quarter in September.

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For the current school year temporary classrooms were also installed at St Peter’s Primary School in Halletts Way and at Portishead Primary School in Station Road to allow them both to increase their intake from 60 to 90 pupils.

The issue of a lack of primary school places in the town has been a contentious one since North Somerset Council decided to close St Barnabas Primary School in West Hill in 2009.

However, Councillor Blatchford has reiterated that to reopen the school, which is now being used as a children’s centre and community facility, would not be on the cards,

He said: “We are not reopening St Barnabas – it is just a non-starter.”

The proposal for Portishead is one of six school schemes approved by the executive. Among them are plans to spend �210,000 on creating a further 105 places overall at Yatton Junior and Infant schools in High Street.

There are also proposals to spend �450,000 on improving the interior of Ravenswood Special School in Pound Lane, Nailsea.

Cllr Blatchford said: “It is a tired school and needs to be brought right up to par.”