The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP – Secretary of State for Education
House of Commons
30th June 2010
RE: CONNAUGHT CENTRE
I thank you for your interest in Hove in the past and I write now to bring to your attention specifically to the shortage of primary school places in the area.
A recently closed adult education venue in Hove, the Connaught Centre, has been identified as a potential site for a new primary school. The plan makes perfect sense in fact as the building was originally a school when it opened in 1884. Yet there are question marks over whether or not the plan will go ahead and, if it does progress, when the school can actually reopen its gates.
It appears from my discussions with officers at Brighton & Hove City Council that we are up against two particular problems – security of funding and the ownership of the building. These are in addition to the building work which is necessary to turn the Connaught back into a school.
Council officers cite the issue of funding as the greatest obstacle in obtaining the building. It is currently owned by City College and the ability to demonstrate a secure source of funds will be key as matters progress. I should be extremely grateful, therefore, if you would provide me with some clarification on education funding for Hove over the coming year.
Although it is becoming less likely as each day passes, I would be delighted if the school could open this September. I strongly believe that where there’s a will, there’s a way. I fear, however, that health and safety fears related to using the building in its unconverted form will put a stop to that. My personal view and that of many parents is that an unconverted Connaught is infinitely preferable to temporary huts on other schools’ playing fields.
I have also been informed that a competition must be held to decide who will operate the new school and, in this instance, this policy is being cited as a possible reason for delay. Again, I should be extremely grateful if you would provide me with some clarification.
As an aside, the closure of the Connaught Centre as an adult education facility has saddened and angered many. Whilst I appreciate that you have no control over the provision of adult education by City College, I wondered if you could offer any guidance on the use of primary schools as adult education venues during the evenings and weekends.
I am extremely grateful to you for all that you have done for Hove to date and I thank you very much in advance for your assistance on this particular matter.
MIKE WEATHERLEY MP
Arguments based on cost and availibity are one thing, but it is to be hoped that the Connaught solution will not be defeated by the web of rules and regulations in which modern society seems to have become emmeshed.