Enforcement action that has been branded “illogical” has been threatened against Bedford Free School if it opens in September, the Times & Citizen can exclusively reveal.
Several weeks ago we reported that Bedford Borough Council refused to give Bedford Free School, based on Cauldwell Street, planning permission on the grounds that traffic would cause danger and inconvenience to users of the highway.
But spokesman for the school Nigel Syson insisted that the school would still be opening next month and claimed the building already had the required planning permission.
A spokesman for Bedford Borough Council said: “In light of the decision made by the planning committee to refuse planning permission, if the Free School does open it would be unlawful, as a breach of planning.
“It does not have permission to educate children from the age of 11.
“The reason for refusal in respect of the most recent planning application sets out the local planning authority’s concerns that the proposed use would result in potential highway danger.
“On the grounds of concern for the safety of children, and others, such a breach of planning permission would result in an immediate action to instigate the enforcement process.
“The council, in any dealings with outside bodies, asks that they have secured sufficient insurance cover to meet any claims arising from their activities.”
But Bedford Free School has slammed the move and says it is completely committed to the safety of its pupils.
Speaking on behalf of the governors at Bedford Free School, a spokesman said: ”The enforcement notice being threatened by the council is both illogical and irrational.
“Why on earth can it be okay for a college to run education from a building but not a Free School, this simply makes no sense at all.
“The council has long known of our plans to open the school and we are disappointed they have taken this route.
“Why do local politicians think they know so much better than their planning and highways officers who have recommended approval for both our planning applications?
“Can their expert advice not be relied upon?
“We have appealed the planning refusal and this is being heard on September 25. It is therefore not appropriate or expedient for the council to take this legal action at this time.
“We are totally committed to the safety of our children and for this reason have issued a unilateral undertaking to the council.
“In simple terms, this gives the council the money previously agreed for such things as additional traffic wardens.
“We sincerely hope the council can support us and provide the services we both agreed would be a benefit.”
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Weather for Bedford
Saturday 25 May 2013
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