Medway Labour and Cooperative Group today expressed dismay at the latest and last-minute changes to arrangements for students intending to start at the delayed Maritime Academy, Frindsbury. The Maritime Academy, funded by the government, is to be built on the Berwick Way site.
However, planning delays which resulted from the hybrid application, combining plans for not only the school but for housing and the Frindsbury Barn, mean that the building will not be available until 2024. Students at the new school, however, will start this September.
Temporary arrangements were originally put in place to use the now vacant Stoke site. But, at the last minute, government has stepped in to demand a change of plan. Council officers have identified an empty section of Twydall Primary School for Maritime Academy students until the Berwick Way building is ready.
Cllr Mark Prenter, Labour and Cooperative Group Member for Twydall, said today:
“The Conservative government clearly has little understanding of what it’s like for students and their families when starting at a new school. Their last-minute intervention, with less than four months to go until the start of the new school year, adds an unnecessary burden.
“We will also monitor closely the impact of the new arrangement on them and on Twydall. With buses delivering and collecting nearly two-hundred students a day, we will want to know that everything has been done to ensure our community does not suffer any impact.”
Cllr Clive Johnson, Medway Labour and Cooperative Group Shadow Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, added:
“The government is clearly in chaos and you would think that the Department for Education would know better than to disrupt plans at this late stage. I’m sure council staff will do the best they can in difficult circumstances. This is simply not good enough.
“The government have a poor record on delivery of new schools with the Rainham Academy being delayed leading to increased costs for the council.
“In addition, the government made very clear that they would only fund the temporary transport if Medway committed to funding the second and subsequent years, which amounts to a very underhand response to the building delays. The Conservative government’s response to this issue, as to so much else, leaves Medway crying out for change.”