Romiley County Primary School was the centre of a major campaign to raise funds for a new library building a few years ago. As well as encouraging literacy among local kids, the library also serves as the polling station for its local area. But all that could be about to change.
Stockport Council plans to close two satellite schools on the eastern (Springwood Primary) and western (Barrack Hill Primary) limits of the village in July 2005, leaving just Romiley Primary on Sandy Lane to serve the area. The council is seeking Government funds to build a new school on the Sandy Lane site (which raises the interesting question of what will happen to the pupils while the building work is going on).
If the Government won't provide the cash, the prime piece of real estate on Sandy Lane will be sold off and Romiley Primary will be moved to the Springwood site. The council demolished the building for infants at Springwood Primary in August 2004 and moving Romiley Primary will involve putting up a new building of similar size.
The local Parents' Action Group is opposed to the plan to mess about with Romiley Primary because:
- It is a successful and popular school (regularly over-subscribed) and it achieves consistently excellent exam results.
- The school is right in the middle of its customer base and 75% of them walk to school.
- The school uses village assets within walking distance, e.g. the swimming baths, shops and a working farm, as part of its educational programme.
- Relocating Romiley Primary's inmates to a site a mile away will cost businesses in the village their school-run trade and result in increased traffic congestion and pollution as parents will use their cars to take children to Springwood Primary.
Curiously, Stockport Council has chosen not to consult parents over relocating the school. In fact, the council has spent 18 months dithering, rewriting plans and generally moving goal posts. Romiley's local councillors, all Lib-Dems, are refusing to voice the opinions and concerns of their constituents. And the local MP, Lib-Dem Andrew Stunell, who is a councillor as well as an MP(!), also doesn't want to know.
All of which leaves the village's residents with the feeling that the council has no idea what to do about primary education in Romiley. Worse, there is a universal suspicion that the council hopes to make a vast profit out of selling off a prime site at the heart of Romiley, that someone's brother-in-law has put in a bid for the prime building site, and that Romiley's residents will see no benefit at all from the sale.
What all the argument comes down to is: "Do we really need another complex of retirement flats or a supermarket more than a primary school?"
And on the subject of cash, the council doesn't really need to hold the Government to ransom to improve or rebuild Romiley Primary School. All it has to do is divert a small amount from the £500 million of Council Taxpayers' money which it proposes to waste on yet another unnecessary remake of the town centre of Stockport.
As a final sinister touch, Stockport Council has forbidden the school to have anything to do with the Parents' Action Group, which is a sure sign of something dodgy and/or shameful going on backstage.