BBC News: Election 2010 BBC News

Page last updated at 12:14 GMT, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 13:14 UK

Anger over school places shortage in Watford

Candidates have raised concerns about a shortage of more than 100 primary school places in Watford.

Hertfordshire County Council revealed in December last year there would be a shortage of 158 primary school places in the town by 2013/2014.

It has proposed extra mobile classrooms to deal with the problem.

Labour candidate Claire Ward, who was elected MP for the seat in 1997, said: "We told the council this [that there would be a shortage] in 2004 when they closed the Meriden School in 2004 to build a housing estate.

"They merged other schools. We said at the time: 'This is the wrong decision. The population is growing.' They did not listen.

"We said the new homes were family homes and they are going to have children. They [the council] said there is plenty of capacity. Now we know they don't have the capacity.

Ms Ward said it was important to be looking at "how other existing schools can be expanded" rather than "just putting in mobile classrooms".

'Extra schools needed'

Liberal Democrat candidate Sal Brinton said: "The main problem is that the Conservative county council (Hertfordshire) badly miscalculated the number of school places we need.

"Six years ago as they closed down primary schools, we said that young families are moving into the area. They said we were being silly.

"There are more and more parents being told there are no primary school places. They are being put in temporary classrooms. They should at least be building a couple of new primary schools."

Conservative candidate Richard Harrington said: "My feeling is we need extra school places. The Conservative Party policy of allowing groups of parents to set up schools is particularly important in the longer term."

On education policy, Mr Harrington said: "In the short term we need to give more power to head teachers. We have got to give head teachers the power to exclude students."

"Despite spending money, this has not been reflected in the results." He said teachers should not be expected "to be social workers" as well.

The election is taking place on 6 May.

The declared candidates for Watford are: Conservative, Richard Harrington; Labour, Claire Ward; Lib Dem, Sal Brinton; Green, Ian Brandon; BNP, Dr Andrew Emerson; UK Independence Party, Graham Eardley.

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