Lancaster school fields inquiry branded waste of money

Moorside Primary School in Lancaster.
Moorside Primary School in Lancaster.

A Lancaster parent has slammed an inquiry into a school playing field calling it a “pointless way to spend taxpayers money.”

Tim Ripley conducted a Freedom of Information request into the inquiry to register Moorside Primary School’s playing fields into a town green on Bowerham Road.

This must be the most pointless way to spend taxpayer’s money

Tim Ripley

The cost of running the inquiry, led by the Planning Inspectorate, between September 18 2014 and July 7 2015 came in at just under £31,000.

More than 600 pupils attend Moorside and despite opposition from parents, the school and Lancashire County Council, which owns the land, plans are still going ahead.

The application to change the five areas of land surrounding the school into a town green was originally submitted in 2010 by local residents.

Under the FOI the cost incurred by the Planning Inspectorate totals £30,989 to be billed to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

At the time of the inquiry local resident Janine Bebbington defended the application saying “the land can, and should be enjoyed by everybody” and the status would result in protection from future development.

The cost of the inquiry breaks down to £23,166 for 35.10 days of inspector time at £660 per day, £1,605.23 for inspector expenses (including hotel costs), £630 for advertising the inquiry and £5,588 for venue hire.

The costs do not include any legal fees run up by Lancashire Country Council or Moorside School.

Mr Ripley said: “At a time when school and council spending is set to face billions of pounds of government cuts this must be the most pointless way to spend taxpayer’s money.” Ian Young, Lancashire County Council’s director of governance, finance and public services, said: “Lancashire County Council will be appealing the decision. We will be issuing proceedings for a judicial review.”