Ely parents told ‘sorry new school delayed’ as Cambridgeshire County Council blame ‘problems with the utility connections’

Proposed Isle of Ely primary school

Proposed Isle of Ely primary school - Credit: Archant

Parents got the news tonight that their children will not be moving to a new primary school in the New Year after Cambridgeshire County Council delayed its opening.

Proposed Isle of Ely primary school

Proposed Isle of Ely primary school - Credit: Archant

The council blamed “problems with the utility connections” for pulling the plug at the 11th hour on the planned opening of the Isle of Ely Primary School in Cam Drive.

Six weeks after builders promised “a phased occupation” of the new school from the New Year, it will now be postponed for at least a term.

It was a school that the county council said in 2014 was “critical to have built by September 2015 to ensure there was sufficient capacity for children to be able to attend school”.

One parent said tonight: “My children have been anxiously waiting to move and you can imagine their shock when the head told them today it’s now off.

Isle of Ely topping out ceremony Photo: Mike Rouse

Isle of Ely topping out ceremony Photo: Mike Rouse - Credit: Archant

“I simply can’t understand why these problems weren’t highlighted and dealt with earlier. I am not alone in feeling pretty let down by this.”

Vikki Spittles, education capital projects officer, told parents today that every effort had been made to progress the outstanding utilities work.

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She said the delays had led to a “knock-on effect on the programme for the surfacing work to the highway road to the school.

“Until this work is complete we do not have a safe access,”

Isle of Ely topping out) From left:Sebastian Kindersley, Chairman CCC, Gary Pelle, CEO Active Learni

Isle of Ely topping out) From left:Sebastian Kindersley, Chairman CCC, Gary Pelle, CEO Active Learning Trust, Bryony Surtees, Head teacher and Dennis Cotton, Operations Director, Kier) Photo: Mike Rouse - Credit: Archant

She said: “In order to allow sufficient time for the school to move it is now planned to schedule the move in the spring term.

“It has always been our intention working with the school sponsor, The Active Learning trust, to have a phased hand-over of the entire school. Despite the problems we have encountered with the utility connections we have been able to make significant progress with the school building contract and we now anticipate hand over in the spring.”

Ms Spittles said 11 classrooms, and all core facilities including kitchen, staff room and library, would be handed over.

She told parents: “I trust you will appreciate that safe access to the new school is of paramount importance and thus has been the key decision to reschedule the hand over.”

Just six weeks ago the school celebrated with a topping out ceremony to prepare for the opening of the school, which will eventually house 630 pupils.

Isle of Ely Primary School is currently on a temporary site at Ely St Mary’s Junior School.

Bryony Surtees, executive head teacher of Isle of Ely and Chesterton Primary Schools, said at the topping out ceremony that “the completion of the school building is very exciting, and I know that our staff and pupils are looking forward to moving into the premises in January.”

“Our vision for Isle of Ely is to build upon the strong foundations we have established over the last few months, as well as ensuring that we continue to develop links with the community and beyond to support the local area.”

Academy sponsors The Active Learning Trust say they have worked with a variety of stakeholders to ensure the completion of this project, including Cambridgeshire County Council and Kier Group.

Gary Peile, the trust’s chief executive, said: “There has been a great effort from a lot of people to get this project off the ground and completed to schedule.

“We’re extremely grateful for everyone’s hard work and dedication, and the topping-out ceremony will allow us to celebrate the beginning of a new school serving the growing population of Ely.”

Isle of Ely Primary School has been built to meet the increasing demand for school places within the Ely area.Its construction has been managed by Kier Group.

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