Call for Government to rethink funding refusal for flood-prone Tipton St John Primary School

Counciloor Claire Wright donned her wellies and helped cleaning the playground at Tipton primary sch

Counciloor Claire Wright donned her wellies and helped cleaning the playground at Tipton primary school. Ref sho 0504-01-16SH. Photo Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Councillor Claire Wright says financial help to relocate site is ‘vital’

Fears for children’s safety at the flood-prone Tipton St John Primary School have prompted renewed calls for financial help from the Government.

County councillor Claire Wright says the impact of Storm Frank - which saw the playground submerged on December 30 - demonstrates the ‘vital’ need to move premises.

But despite a suitable site being identified, a bid to move the primary school to a new, single building was scuppered when an application for funding from the Priority School Building Programme Two (PSBP2) was refused.

East Devon’s MP Hugo Swire said he has pressed the urgency of the matter with the under secretary for schools, Lord Nash, and as a short-term measure has invited Sir James Bevan, the new chief executive of the Environment Agency, to visit the site.

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In a letter to Mr Swire, Councillor Wright said: “The floods have so far only taken place outside of school hours.

“Evacuating children from a flood would be a very different matter – and very frightening for them.

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“A site on the edge of the village was identified for a new school in 2014. The landowner was happy with the proposal and the community was delighted that children were set to be educated in a new building well away from the flood zone.

“I believe that it was a huge shame and very short-sighted, that the bid for funds was rejected by ministers. In my view it is absolutely vital that central government rethinks this issue, particularly after the school grounds were once again inundated with floodwater.

“Although it will be helpful for the chief executive of the Environment Agency to visit the school to help advise on interim flood mitigation measures, I believe that it is absolutely vital that Lord Nash, as minister with decision-making responsibility for funding such schemes, is also invited on the visit.”

Speaking after the latest incident on December 30, Mr Swire said he was ‘deeply concerned’ about the effect of flooding on Tipton Primary School.

He called it a ‘clearly unsustainable’ situation and said it is not only the pupils’ quality of education but also their safety which is being compromised.

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