Six week consultation to be held over the future of Ridgmont Lower School

Central Bedfordshire Council is to hold a six-week consultation
Ridgmont Lower School Screenshot Google Streetview (C)2023 Google Image capture June 2021Ridgmont Lower School Screenshot Google Streetview (C)2023 Google Image capture June 2021
Ridgmont Lower School Screenshot Google Streetview (C)2023 Google Image capture June 2021

Central Bedfordshire Council is to hold a six-week consultation to consider the future of Ridgmont Lower School, the council’s executive has agreed.

On Tuesday (August 1) the executive members were to approve the launch of a six-week consultation to consider “if closure of the school should be pursued or if there are other options for the future of Ridgmont Lower School”.

Deputy executive member for health and community liaison, councillor Gareth Mackey (Independent, Flitwick) said: “We talk about the presumption that rural schools will stay open.

“You can have a passive presumption or an active presumption, where we’re doing everything in our power to ensure that those schools remain open and viable.

“Rumours can kill the process before it even starts.

“And in the recommendation, it says to ‘consider if closure of the school should be pursued or if there are other options’,” he said.

He added that this could put the possibility of closure at the forefront of people’s minds.

“I would like to see the recommendation potentially amended to just say to consider the future of Ridgmont school, because it doesn’t have to say about closure,” he said.

The proposal to amend the wording was approved by the Executive.

Councillor Hayley Whitaker (Independent, Biggleswade West), the executive member for families, education and children, said the consultation was the result of low pupil numbers.

“There is a presumption to keep rural schools open because we recognise how important they are within the community,” she said.

“I just want to reiterate to everybody this is the start of the consultation process.

“But the process requires that we do a full evaluation of all of the issues around the school and that’s our statutory obligation.

“Hopefully lots of residents will engage with that process and we will get lots of different options we can really go back and look at.

“Just to bear in mind that this land is not Central Bedfordshire land, this is Duke of Bedford land. This is not necessarily our piece of land to decide its future on if the school were to close.

“But we are listening, I want to reiterate that this is not a foregone conclusion, that presumption is there,” she said.