CAMPAIGNERS against a new Secondary School in Stoke Poges have been dealt a blow as Slough Borough Council vowed to fight government demands that the academy be built in Slough instead.

The government had approved an application for the Khalsa Academy on the Pioneer UK site in Stoke Poges, which has attracted vociferous opposition from villagers.

However, the Department for Education sensationally performed a u-turn by issuing a demand for Slough Borough Council to hand over the old Arbour Vale School site.

SBC chief executive Ruth Bagley received a letter dated March 4 threatening to use Free School legislation to secure the site for the new academy.

But in a response sent on Monday, Ms Bagley made it plain the borough would not comply, and would take legal action to retain the site, earmarked for a development to include a new home for Slough Town FC.

Should they be successful, it could pave the way for the Khalsa Secondary Academy to move into the Pioneer UK site in Stoke Poges, which has attracted vociferous opposition from villagers.

Chair of Trustees for the Slough Sikh Education Trust has maintained the Stoke Poges site remains the preferred site, regardless of the wrangling over Arbour Vale.

He said: “The Slough Sikh Education Trust did not request this review and while discussions continue between Slough Borough Council and the Department for Education, we are concentrating on progressing our application in Stoke Poges for an excellent non-selective school.

“Creating a new school through a sustainable re-use of office buildings on the Pioneer site is an ideal and deliverable solution.”

The Trust initially made enquiries about the Arbour Vale site in 2010, but were told by SBC the site was unavailable due to a manifesto pledge concerning the football club.

Ms Bagley labelled the demand ‘ill-informed’ and ‘perverse’, claiming the town will suffer if Arbour Vale is handed over.

As well as a much-needed housing development, she said, a local secondary school is set to use community and sporting facilities which would be created in their current plan.

SBC’s stance dismisses campaigners’ hopes that the Stoke Poges site, located on Hollybush Hill, would no longer be in contention for the Sikh academy.

Saera Carter, Stoke Poges Parish Council vice chairman and spokesperson for the campaign, has reiterated villagers' concerns over the school.
She maintains:

- South Bucks has no demand or need for another school, we have a surplus of school places.
- We are concerned about the human rights of villagers who will lose their free home to school transport as this proposed school will become the nearest school.

- This will take away a fundamental right to choose which school a parent can send their child to in the event of not being to afford school transport.
- Slough has a need to provide for its increasing shortfall of schools.
This need should not impact on Bucks, its villages, its greenbelt and infrastructure

The planning application for the Pioneer UK site is currently scheduled for April.

However, with all parties awaiting the Department of Education’s reply to SBC, the application may yet prove irrelevant if legislation forces the Arbour Vale site to be surrendered.