Council could be reported to ombudsman over plan to close Gembling Primary School
EAST Riding Council could be reported to the Local Government Ombudsman over the speed of school closure plans.
The National Association for Small Schools is threatening to complain to the ombudsman if the authority presses ahead with Gembling Primary School's closure in July.
Gembling is one of three small primaries at risk of closure by the cash-starved council.
Parents, staff and governors at the 26-pupil school near Driffield are "extremely shocked" at the speed of closure plans, revealed just weeks ago.
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Mervyn Benford, of the National Association for Small Schools, said: "The school learned only recently about the closure proposal for the end of the summer term.
"Governors were told at a meeting the decision had already been made but that consultation would be offered.
"This is in total denial of the purpose of statutory consultation, which is to elicit views that ultimately influence decisions."
Mr Benford said it was understood the council was already taking steps to redeploy staff, affirming the suspicion the decision to close the school had already been made.
He said High Court rulings underline a requirement for consultees to be given "adequate time" to respond.
Mr Benford said the speed of the council's closure plans also allow little or no time for independent adjudication.
He said: "There is a national adjudication system in place to confirm closures but the timetable the council has set means any adjudication process will be barely, if at all, possible.
"It all speaks of a determination to make this decision from the outset and to brook no opposition.
"Should the council continue with this proposal under this timescale, it will qualify under High Court standards for reference to the ombudsman."
Mr Benford said the issue is also being raised with Schools Minister David Laws.
The council has blamed a new national funding regime for the closure proposal, warning the school would go into the red in the next academic year.
East Riding Council said it would respond "in due course" to issues raised by the National Association for Small Schools.
John Wilson, the council's assistant director for children, family and adult services, said: "The council has followed statutory guidelines and fully complied with statutory regulations.
"The council has extended the consultation period to exceed the recommended minimum."
The deadline for comments is now April 15.
This is also the consultation deadline for comments on proposals to close Langtoft and Dunswell primaries.