Councillor Wright ‘not invited’ to talks over flood-hit Tipton St John school

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

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

Disappointment over exclusion from meeting on ‘crucially important issues’

Hugo Swire stock picture

Hugo Swire stock picture - Credit: Archant

Government figures were drafted in to discuss the fate of Tipton St John’s flood-prone school – but a key campaigner was left questioning why she was not invited, writes Eleanor Pipe.

County councillor Claire Wright hit out at MP Sir Hugo Swire, claiming she was ‘barred’ from a meeting with Environment Agency (EA) boss Sir James Bevan on Friday, despite having worked on the issue for three years.

The East Devon MP dismissed the accusation this week, saying the private meeting at the village primary school was ‘small and focused’ and no invites had been issued to any local councillors.

Discussions on a ‘last chance’ bid to save the school – which may involve relocating from the ageing, flood-prone current buildings to brand-new premises in Ottery St Mary – are ongoing.

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Cllr Wright said: “I was bizarrely barred from a meeting in my own ward with East Devon’s MP and the chief executive of the EA, James Bevan, who met with Tipton school staff about the ongoing challenges of flooding at the school.

“I have been involved in discussions on how the situation at Tipton may be remedied since I was elected as a Devon county councillor in 2013.

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“I asked to attend the meeting, however, was informed by Hugo Swire’s office that I would not be welcome as he was ‘keeping the meeting very small and focused and had to limit numbers’.

“I was very disappointed about being excluded as crucially-important issues would be discussed that I have been actively involved with.”

Cllr Wright added that she has provided funding from her county council locality budget for a flood survey, organised community clear-ups and worked with the school and community on finding a solution.

Sir Hugo said: “I had a meeting with the governors of Tipton Primary School and Sir James Bevan. It was a very quick meeting and I wanted to keep it small and focused. She [Claire Wright] was not barred, she was simply not invited.”

He added that relevant parties are working on finding a way forward and hope to have more updates soon.

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