West Berkshire Council

Statement: Council refutes claims made by Theale Parish Council

Council challenges recent claims made by Theale Parish Council

2016 - image of the entrance to the proposed new Theale Primary School

West Berkshire Council is disappointed by misleading and inaccurate claims made by Theale Parish Council in relation to a project to deliver a new school in the village.

A project to build a new school in Theale was halted earlier this month following continuing delays by Theale Parish Council in making any decision on whether it would relinquish its lease on vital land without which the school cannot go ahead.

Yesterday (Wednesday 17 January) Theale Parish Council informed its residents that no response had been received to a letter sent to the Chief Executive of West Berkshire Council and that it contained a clear offer of further discussions on the issue.

Contrary to the parish council claims, West Berkshire Council received the letter on 19 December - dated 30th November - and formally responded to Theale Parish Council on 4 January. Receipt of West Berkshire Council's letter dated 4th January was acknowledged in writing by Theale Parish Council. As well as replying directly to the Council, pdf icon the open letter was also published [84kb] to update the local community on the Council's decision to halt the school project and the reasons for doing so.

There has also been further correspondence on the issue, including between the Chief Executive of West Berkshire Council and the Chair of Theale Parish Council seeking clarification on points made in the response provided on 4 January. As a result of this ongoing dialogue a meeting has been arranged for next week between West Berkshire Council, Theale Parish Council and Alok Sharma MP.

By these actions it will be clear to the public that contrary to Theale Parish Council's statement, West Berkshire Council has responded to the parish council and generally communicated actively and in detail over the last three weeks.

Refuting the claims by Theale Parish Council, Graham Jones, Leader of West Berkshire Council said:

"It is disappointing that rather than make a decision on whether to release this land Theale Parish Council is choosing to spread misleading information about a lack of dialogue with us. As well as responding to the parish council's correspondence we have worked hard to be open with the local community about our position and the efforts we have made to deliver a new school for the village. It is a shame that we are having to talk about this when we should be talking about the education of future generations of children in the village.

"The letter Theale Parish Council referred to was brief and confirmed only that no formal vote on a decision about the land had been made and that parish councillors were not convinced that best value had been achieved. It is frustrating that after months of dialogue they have introduced a new reason to delay making a decision. We were invited to discuss the matter further and I hope the meeting next week will help convince the parish council of the merits of building a new school in the village.

"Theale Parish Council seem to be moving deliberately slowly both in making a decision and in its correspondence with us. I would urge them to work with us with the dynamism the situation merits if we are to get to a point where we can move forward. Our offer to reconsider our decision to halt the project - if we get assurances this month about the release of the land - still stands and I urge the council to consider it very seriously."

To find out more about West Berkshire Council's project to build a new school please read this news article: