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Council leader "embarrassed" over handling of new building for West Sussex school

  • Video report: Parents protest ahead of council committee over the future of Woodlands Meed

The leader of West Sussex County Council says it's "embarrassing" how the authority has dealt with creating a new school for vulnerable children.

Paul Marshall's admission came during a meeting to discuss Woodlands Meed School in Burgess Hill, which saw parent's protesting outside the council offices.

It's not just about access, this is about the full curriculum that's not being delivered to our children.

– Boo Savage, mother of a pupil at Woodlands Meed

Parents of pupils at the special needs school are angry because of what they see as a broken promise.

Ten years ago the county council pledged to build a new facility for the pupils of Woodlands Meed.

Yet pupils are still housed in classrooms that are cramped, with disabled toilets located outside the building in a porta-cabin.

In February, the council said it would put £20 million forward for a new building.

At the meeting it was confirmed that £6 million of that figure was subject to a Government grant which was unsuccessful.

The authority confirmed it is trying to plug that funding gap.

"It is very frustrating, it is in fact an embarrassment."

– Cllr Paul Marshall, Leader of WSCC

The Children's and Young People's select committee told the council that providing anything other than a new building would be unacceptable, rejecting proposals to simply refurbish the current facilities.

The project will now go through a further review, with a final decision on the construction of a new school expected in January.