Gosport councillors come out against move for troubled kids

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PARENTS battling plans to build a centre for troubled teens in the grounds of a primary school have won the backing of councillors.

Gosport Borough Council has objected to a bid by Hampshire County Council to move Quayside Education Centre to Woodcot Primary.

Opponents fear the plans would put their children at risk and disrupt people living nearby.

Gosport council’s planning board was recommended to voice no objections to the plan.

But after hearing from concerned parents, councillors unanimously agreed last night to tell the county the site was not ideal and another should be found. The county council will still have the final say.

Karen Headley, of Conifer Grove in Gosport, has two children at Woodcot Primary School and spoke at the meeting. The 44-year-old said: ‘I’m jubilant that Gosport councillors have agreed it’s not the right site.

‘I would like to say thank you to Gosport Borough Council for listening.

‘We feel like they actually understood our concerns.

‘We’re not putting these children at Quayside down.

‘I know some of their stories about why they are there and it’s not their fault. They are not bad kids and they deserve a chance.

‘But as Cllr Dave Smith said, this is the right facility in the wrong location.’

Hampshire County Council declined an invitation to attend last night’s planning meeting.

More than 600 people have signed a petition against the proposals.

Labour ward councillor for Bridgemary, Cllr Dennis Wright, proposed the council throw out its recommendation to agree to the plans and instead say to Hampshire County Council: ‘In view of information that has now come to light, we do not believe this to be an ideal site for such a unit and a different site be found.’

And when put to a vote, the council’s planning board unanimously agreed.

The response will form part of the county council’s consultation before it makes its decision.

The leader of Gosport Borough Council, Cllr Mark Hook, said: ‘It is right the public have their right to have a say.

‘I welcome the fact this council has allowed a debate on this issue.

‘Hampshire County Council has failed miserably in promoting this and that puts us in a difficult position.’

Hampshire County Council says it would stagger school starting times to segregate the pupils.

The Quayside centre is for 11 to 16-year-olds who have been excluded from school or are considered too emotionally vulnerable for mainstream education.