Plan to block Lowton super school

An audacious bid to stop a 'super' school being built is being made by campaigners.

Opponents of the controversial PFI-funded nursery, primary and high school Lowton Campus are applying for its Hesketh Meadows site to be granted Village Green status.

A coalition of protesters including Hesketh Meadow Action Group, residents, Wigan UNISON, Golborne Save Our Schools campaigners are jointly backing the move and will stage another public meeting at The Shepherd Inn in Newton Road, Lowton, this evening (Wednesday).

If successful, it would also throw a lifeline to threatened Golborne and Lowton High Schools and Lowton Junior and Infants which the new Building Schools for the Future mega school is intended to replace.

However, the village green application will need to prove two decades of continuous and unchallenged community use of the land next to Lowton Civic Hall.

And that has already proved difficult for campaigners to secure at several sites around the borough.

But the bullish applicants say that they are confident that this one will succeed and "blow a gaping hole" in the council's schools revolution.

A spokesman for the protesters said: "This is the first salvo of our campaign to stop this monster school which few locals want for a whole host of reasons.

"Not least from the point of all residents in the area, the horrendous effect the building of the proposed school would have both on traffic levels and on our ability to access local green spaces and common land enjoyed by Lowton residents for generations.

''To be successful all we need to do is show that local residents have been using the area of land we are wanting to protect as a village green 'as of right', that is to say, without the permission of the council or anyone else, for 20 years or more and to collect statements and evidence to that effect.

"We have taken legal advice on the issue already and are pretty confident that we can collect more than sufficient evidence, in the necessary legal format required, from local residents, which will support our case overwhelmingly."

But Cabinet member for children and young people's services Coun Susan Loudon said: "Building Schools for the Future is aimed to support communities by giving wide access to all age groups and varied users.

"The site at Lowton has great opportunities for wider community use and we will consult directly with the neighbours of the site about use, access and transport issues.

"We will also be talking to residents in both Lowton and Golborne as part of the next stage of the consultation, about enhanced facilities and opportunities in their area, and I hope they will enter in to these discussions .

"Any application for village green status would, of course, have to run its own independent course."

Borough Save Our Schools campaigners from Golborne are also mounting a growing campaign to keep Golborne High open, whatever the outcome of the village green status application in Lowton.

A spokesperson said: "We are going to intensify our own campaigning at the same time, to put the council under additional pressure to abandon their entire plans for the closure of Golborne and Lowton High Schools, the fight against which is directly linked to the building of the proposed new monster school."