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HIGH COURT BID TO STOP COUNTY BUILDING GRAMMAR SCHOOL

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court ref no: CO/2162/95 ...
court ref no: CO/2162/95

Plans to build the nation's first new grammar school in 30 years will come under fire today from Labour-controlled Milton Keynes BC in London's high court.

The local authority claims the grammar school will bring no educational benefits to the new town and will result in an over-supply of secondary school places for which local tax- payers may have to pick up the bill.

And it says it has been 'saddled' with the scheme by Buckinghamshire CC - the last Conservative- controlled county council in Britain - which it is soon to replace as education authority for the area.

The borough council's bid to stop the grammar school plans in their tracks will be heard by Mr Justice Ognall this afternoon.

But Conservative county councillor Andy Dransfield today condemned the borough council's court challenge as 'Old Labour fighting its old battles'.

The borough council is asking the judge to overturn plans for the new grammar school in Campbell Park, Milton Keynes, announced by the county council in May last year.

Construction of the school is not expected to be completed before September 1998, and the county council accepts that the borough council will by then - under reorganisation - have replaced it as local education authority for Milton Keynes.

The borough council says that, as the county council will no longer have any control over Milton Keynes by the time the school is planned to open, it had no power to 'saddle' it with the scheme.

Despite Milton Keynes' expansion in recent years, the borough council says that the grammar school, if built, will at the end of the century result in 300 more secondary school places than there are pupils to fill them.

But Mark Greenburgh, deputy leader of the county council, said outside court: 'Milton Keynes is an expanding town and new schools are needed to educate the cohorts of children coming to the area'.

The borough council had made no objection to plans to construct two new comprehensive schools for the town, one of which is nearing completion, with the other due to open in 1997, he added.

He said that some indication of parental preferences was given by the fact that up to 400 Milton Keynes children travel daily to the nearest grammar school in Aylesbury Vale.

'The county council is seeking to give parents what they want in Milton Keynes,' he added.

Mr Dransfield rejected claims that the grammar school would lead to an over-supply of secondary school places, adding:

'What you are seeing today is Old Labour fighting its old battles'.

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