Anger over wasteland where new £40 million South Gloucestershire schools should have been built

  • Watch Richard Payne's report here.

Parents say they're angry at constant delays to build two urgently-needed schools in a rapidly expanding area of South Gloucestershire.

A new primary and secondary school were originally due to open at Lyde Green, east of Bristol, last year but now won't be ready until 2026 at the earliest.

Growing construction costs, covid and Brexit are being blamed but the new-co-leader of the local authority admits the issue is 'unacceptable'.

The lack of the 900-place secondary school means children are having to compete for a place at already oversubscribed schools miles from home.

Parent Nicola Stone will have to look for schools elsewhere for her 9-year-old daughter, Matilda, when making choices later this year.

"We wanted her to have that local secondary school to be able to have her friends," said Nicola.

"To be able to stay after school, do her activities and not worry about a bus, or how she was going to get there.

"If it doesn't look like it's going to be open for 2026 then I feel that they (parents) need to start making some noises, just to keep somebody accountable and to keep it fresh in somebody's mind that actually we do need this school and there are children suffering because of it."

Nicola Stone has led parent protests against the delays of the new schools Credit: ITV News

Expensive, newly laid sports courts and artificial pitches are already surrounding the proposed school site but they remain empty. The council insist the facilities will open for community use before the schools open.

A multi-academy trust, Olympus, has been appointed to provide the education when its able and a headteacher has even been designated.

The Trust told ITV News it remains committed to the project but was powerless until the council and Department for Education agreed a timescale. It's thought more than £40 million has been set aside for the schools' construction, a quarter of it from the local authority.

Meanwhile the estate's sole local primary school is over-flowing and oversubscribed with additional classrooms to cope with demand.

Cllr Ian Boulton, the new co-leader of South Gloucestershire Council with responsibility for education, says ending the delays is a priority.

"It's unacceptable," he added. "It's one of things that we inherited. I know that (planning) officers are frustrated with it. I know the school community locally is frustrated with it and I share that. This is why I'm now trying to find out exactly a timeline we can realistically expect this project to be delivered."