PARENTS should get the chance to decide whether two Ellesmere Port high schools are axed and replaced with a £20m academy.
That is the view of pressure group Keep Ellesmere Port Schools (KeEPS) whose members believe a ballot would be the fairest way for parents to have their say.
Last week we exclusively revealed how Cheshire education chiefs are proposing to shut both Ellesmere Port Specialist School of Performing Arts (EPSSPA) and Cheshire Oaks and replace them with an academy on the Woodchurch Lane site.
On Friday those plans were given the official go-ahead and officers will undertake the necessary work on developing the project, with public consultation due to begin later this month.
Greg Foster, of KeEPS and West Cheshire National Union of Teachers, says the county council should hold a parents’ ballot as part of that consultation.
He said: “The only transparent way of consulting the parents and ensuring they all have a say is to let them vote.
“Sheffield County Council is prepared to consult with the people who voted them into office. Why won’t Cheshire give the parents of Ellesmere Port the same opportunity?”
However, Cheshire’s children’s services executive member, County Councillor David Rowlands, said: “I would need some convincing in these circumstances that this is the best thing to do.
“We have to bear in mind this is £20m of investment. This is money that won’t come into the town other than through an academy. It’s a terrific opportunity.”
The original proposal unveiled in 2006 was to replace Whitby, Cheshire Oaks and EPSSPA with two academies, but that was scrapped after governors at Whitby school decided not to support it.
Cllr Rowlands added: “This carries a lot more support than the proposals did at Whitby and therefore is a lot more feasible. Public consultation will now begin in early October and if we decide on the academy option and are backed by the Government then it is hoped the academy will open in a year’s time.”