James Wharton hits out as councillors reject application

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Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter (Stockton/Hartlepool)

A CONSERVATIVE MP has criticised a Labour-led council for preventing “a multi-million pound investment that would have brought us a school.”

James Wharton, MP for Stockton South, criticised Stockton Borough Council’s decision to turn down a planning application for a free school in Ingleby Barwick, part of his constituency.

Councillors rejected the plan for a 750-place secondary school and 150-place sixth form in conjunction with 350 new homes because it was on green wedge land - green fields not earmarked for development - and there was not enough social housing included in the scheme. 

One Conservative councillor voted against during Tuesday’s meeting and two others abstained.

Mr Wharton, who has campaigned for a new school for Ingleby Barwick, said: “I would like to think there would be no party politics in planning recommendations though, on this occasion, it does seem very strange that officers would turn down a multi-million pound investment that would have brought us a much-needed new school.”

Responding to the allegations, Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton North who sits on the Parliamentary Education Committee, said he supported free schools in places where there was a shortage of school places, but added: “There can be a case for new schools, free or otherwise, but they should be built in areas of genuine need.”

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