Families urge action after missing out on local places
FAMILIES in east Bristol are calling on the city council to increase the number of reception class places at schools in the area.
A campaign has been launched after dozens of parents found last month their four-year-olds had not been given places at local primaries.
Labour Councillor Ron Stone said he believed the council had concentrated on creating extra school places for the "chattering classes" in north Bristol. "East Bristol has been forgotten," he said.
"I predicted four years ago that there would be a crisis in primary school places coming right up the A420 to the border with Kingswood and that is what we are seeing."
Mr Stone, who met affected parents at the weekend, is hoping to join forces with other councillors from the area and call a public meeting.
Helen Breakwell, from Redfield, was shocked when her daughter Lara did not get any of the family's three preferred schools, including Whitehall Primary School, 521 metres from her house, and Summerhill Infant School, 804 metres away.
Ms Breakwell, 32, said: "There are 27 other schools closer to our house than the one that we've been offered, Hillfields, which is over 3km away.
"At the moment I walk Lara to and from nursery. If I were to do this at the school offered it would take me more than three hours every day."
Anna Grebby, from Redfield, is in a similar position. Her son Isaac has been offered a place at Millpond Primary in Easton, having missed out on Whitehall, Summerhill and Air Balloon Hill.
She said: "The situation that we have been placed in has been extremely upsetting and stressful at a time when we should be positive about this really important stage in our children's lives."
A Facebook page – Local schools for local kids – East Bristol - has been set up and the parents can be contacted on localschoolscampaignbristol@ gmail.com.
The council is expanding Air Balloon Hill and says it is in talks with another school about taking an extra class for September, which should ease pressure in the east and central area. But this will not be at Summerhill, because there is not enough space, or Whitehall, where an expansion plan was dropped on cost grounds.