HL Deb 19 April 2000 vol 612 cc118-9WA
Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Before they made the decision to approve the closure of Merrywood School, Knowle West, Bristol, whether they had seen the consultation paper issued by Avon County Council Education Committee in January 1994 saying that, if there was no secondary school in the Knowle West Area, it would leave a significant area of this community without reasonable access to a local secondary school (paragraph 2.1); and [HL2140]

Whether the proposed closure of Merrywood School, Knowle West, Bristol, will increase or decrease the number and length of journeys to school for Knowle West children; and [HL2141]

What was the opinion of the Downing Street Social Exclusion Unit on the desirability of closing Merrywood School, Knowle West, Bristol. [HL2142]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone)

In reaching his decision on the proposals by Bristol local education authority to close Merrywood School, published on 5 July 1999, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State took account of the consultation on those proposals, and all other factors which appeared to him to be relevant, including the increased travelling for pupils. It was not relevant for him to consider documents related to previous proposals, such as the 1994 consultation document. The Social Exclusion Unit's role is a strategic one, and it does not extend to issues which are dealt with by a single government department. The unit therefore has no role in advising on individual proposals for school organisation changes, which are decided by the Secretary of State for Education and Employment in accordance with his statutory responsibilities. In reaching a decision the Secretary of State was satisfied as to the provision the local education authority were proposing to make for young people who are excluded or alienated from school, and commended the work of the Knowle West Community Steering Group in examining possibilities for the development of lifelong learning opportunities in the area.