CAMPAIGNERS determined to get rid of the county's 13 grammar schools have to get 18,453 signatures on a petition before they can have a ballot of parents.

Bucks Parents for Comprehensive Education (BPCE) has so far got about 1,000 signatures but are annoyed that they were only given the exact figure needed by the Electoral Reform Society this month.

The pressure group has been collecting names of people against the selective system for five months.

All the signatures have to be in by the end of July, or the whole process has to start all over again.

Malcolm Horne, of BPCE, said getting that number of signatures in a few months was a big hurdle and he was annoyed at the delay.

Any group wanting to get rid of selection in a school, or set of schools, has first to get 20 per cent of eligible parents to call for a ballot. Eligible parents in Bucks are those living in the county with children under 16.

Mike Cole, also of BPCE, said the campaign would pick up steam.

He said: "We had one very encouraging morning in High Wycombe in White Hall Street before Christmas where we collected 100 signatures and five new members."

The campaigners have arranged a public meeting on January 31, where they wanted Cllr Mike Appleyard, Buckinghamshire County Council's cabinet member for schools, to take on Tony Brockman, president of the National Union of Teachers. But Cllr Appleyard is unable to attend.

An Electoral Reform Society spokesman said the delay to release the number of signatures needed was because were kept waiting for a list of eligible parents by one particular school.