Friday brief: Another special needs school project delayed in West Northants
Plus news from across the county
A special needs school set to provide more than 200 new places has been delayed for a year.
The £23m Tiffield School, which was agreed by the West Northants unitary council in September, had been planned to open in September next year. But now the authority is saying it will open in 2025 at the earliest.
This comes after the authority is set to fail to deliver a new unit at Hunsbury Park Primary School in Northampton on time and a number of students will miss at least a month of schooling, starting sometime in October rather than September with their peers. And it is possible the new build planned at Hunsbury Park will not go ahead at all, instead the authority is refurbishing classrooms at another school in the town.
After NN Journal asked questions about the opening date, a spokesman said:
“Whilst the hope was it might be possible to deliver a September 2024 opening, in practice a large construction project of this nature has many inter-linked parts. As the design and construction team has worked through the issues, ranging from protecting nature on the site to planning for transport, it has become clear that September 2025 is the earliest date to plan for. This will not affect children with SEND accessing school places as we continue to work closely with families.
“Although Tiffield will operate to an admissions number of 230, it will be designed to physically accommodate 250 pupils. The remaining 20 places are expected to be filled through emergency placements or other extenuating factors. This will complement the other provision, including a proposed extension of the Gateway School, also at the Tiffield site.”
The area has a shortage of special needs places and it has been a historic problem. Back in 2020, then SEND strategic manager at the former county council Gwyn Botterill warned there was a ‘perfect storm brewing’ with special needs places in Northants.
Between 2014 and 2020*, 700 additional special school places had been created in Northants but the local education authority said in 2020 the same number was needed again. The lack of places means children are often having to be educated out of county, which means longer days for children, who often have to be transported to that school at a significant cost.
News in brief
A man who murdered his wife and two young children has been jailed for forty years.
Kettering General Hospital nurse Anju Asok, 35 and her two children Jevva, 6 and Janvi, 4, were killed by Saju Chelavalel, 52 at their home in December last year.
Chelavalel plead guilty earlier this year and on Monday was sentenced at Northampton Crown Court.
A family spokesperson provided a statement to the court which said:
“The life of Anju’s parents and siblings back in India will never be the same without her. She came to this country with a lot of expectations and dreams. She was not expecting a tragic death from her husband, whom she trusted.”
Just seven drivers have successfully claimed compensation from Northamptonshire councils since April last year after they proved their vehicles were damaged by faults on roads.
Both North and West Northamptonshire councils have admitted their roads are getting no better as funding fails to cover all of the work needed across their networks.
West Northamptonshire Council said it had paid compensation to six motorists in 2022/23 at a total cost of £1,859.21.
North Northamptonshire Council said it had paid out compensation just once that year – at a cost of £106.
Both authorities reported a huge fall from the year before. West Northamptonshire Council had 25 successful claims and paid out £13,972.94 in 2021/22.
North Northamptonshire Council paid out on 14 claims at a cost of £4,747.10.
The figures were obtained from freedom of information requests by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
Industry expert and campaigner Mark Morrell, perhaps better known as Mr Pothole, said possible claimants were often simply not bothering to “jump through the hoops” needed to prove where their vehicle was damaged.
Report by local democracy reporter Nathan Briant
A councillor who receives more than £14,000 a year to oversee how his authority maintains standards appears to have broken rules by failing to keep his own records up to date.
Chairman of the West Northamptonshire Council’s democracy and standards committee Councillor Suresh Patel is also the Conservative Party’s group manager.
All councillors must keep their public register of interests up to date and inform their authority of any new interest within 28 days.
Cllr Patel, who represents East Hunsbury and Shelfleys, was made the sole director of a Northampton dry cleaning business on January 13.
The interest was only published on West Northamptonshire Council’s website on June 5, after the Local Democracy Reporting Service asked why no declaration had been publicly made.
West Northamptonshire Council said it had only received notice of Cllr Patel becoming a director of Alpha Dry Cleaning Solutions Ltd on April 22, 70 working days after he had been appointed.
The delay from April to June was because the authority had not updated its own records.
As the chairman of the democracy and standards committee, Cllr Patel received £14,630 in 2022/23, on top of the £14,630 allowance every West Northamptonshire councillor received.
In a statement, Cllr Patel said:
“As a councillor of 14 years, I understand the importance of maintaining an accurate register of interests. My current register of interests is up to date and I shall ensure any future changes are notified promptly to the council.”
Report by Nathan Briant
Northampton South MP Andrew Lewer was one of the 25 rebel MPs who have formed the New Conservatives group and issued PM Rishi Sunak with demands to cut immigration.
The group’s 12 point plan includes cutting visas provided to workers from abroad to work in the care industry. They want to see immigration figures cut from the current 600,000 to around 200,000. We contacted Andrew Lewer for more information but did not receive a response.
😂 The comedy crate weekend festival starts tomorrow at the Charles Bradlaugh pub in Northampton. Catch acts before they head to Edinburgh. Tickets here.
🌈 Northampton Pride takes place tomorrow heading off from the town centre at 11am and heading to the University of Northampton campus.
🎉The annual Rushden Party in the Park is happening tomorrow at Hall Park from 1pm to 8.30pm.
*An earlier version wrongly said the date was 2000.
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