Paul Dennet, Salford's City Mayor, has released a joint statement to the press countersigned by Councillor John Merry, Lead Member for children's and young peoples services, after learning that proposals are being put forward for a free school on the site of the former St George's RC school in Walkden.
The former school shut its doors to pupils after a long dispute over the falling numbers, the school was finally mothballed in early 2013 and has laid dormant since.
The new 750 place co-educational, non-faith secondary school has been given approval as a new free school project. Additionally it would seem that the council has been told it will have to lease the property to Star Academy Trust for 125 years with no premium at a peppercorn rent. The council would also be liable for all clearance works required at the site as well as any alterations or maintenance of the highways and roads needed.
Paul Dennett lambasted the decision saying that neither he or the council had receive any prior advanced notice of the DfE press release, which has left the local authority with significant unanswered questions.
No date has been given for the expected opening of the new school and it has not been made clear if the old building will be retained for use or if there will be a completely new build put on the site.
The Mayor questioned demand for the new school due to its proximity to the existing Harrop Fold & Walkden secondary schools. He went on to say that the councils preferred option for the site would be for use in improving much needed primary school places.
Meanwhile Councillor Merry has spoken of his concerns over the proposals stating that the councils position is that it will seek to use every legal means possible to prevent it.
The council will mount a legal challenge if necessary.
Salford Council has historically opposed the introduction of free schools and academies, citing lack of benefit to the wider community and the fragmentation of the education system they engender.
They have pledged to closely monitor the situation and keep residents in the surrounding area up to date with developments.
The full statement can be found bellow.