Fears village will be swamped by new primary school

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New plans to build a large new primary school to serve two villages more than a mile apart have prompted fury.

Cotton End Lower School currently has 105 pupils. But the plan to cater for children from Shortstown, 1.6 miles away, will swell its ranks to 630.

Cotton End families fear their village, which has just 800 residents, will be swamped by the new school.

The planning application was lodged this month as part of Bedford Borough’s plans to expand a string of local schools ready for the new two-tier education system.

But many Cotton End residents feel their extension is simply too big.

“Our settlement and village community has no requirement for this school and already has a primary school adequate to meet its own needs,” said one protester.

“The school will be swamped with children from Shortstown and beyond and it will lose its small, friendly atmosphere,” he added.

Objectors also say the A600 road between the two villages is already heavily used and will become dangerous with the extra school run traffic.

They have slammed plans to provide a layby outside the new school for just 25 cars.

“This is way too inadequate. What happens when there is an event at the school?” said one man.

He says school-run parents will be expected to perform a U-turn on a mini roundabout before dropping off or picking up in the layby. And he claims this is against the council-promoted Safer Routes to Schools programme. These policies have been completely ignored in this proposal to move pupils from one settlement to another.”

A council spokesman said: “We are committed to supporting our local village schools and ensuring that there are enough school places for young children, whilst also ensuring that all residents are listened to.”