Sir Roger Gale
Member of Parliament for North Thanet (Margate, Herne Bay & The Villages)
Gale's View 23/10/2013
October 23rd 2013
Herne Bay at last faces the prospect of a dedicated Grammar School to serve the Town. It has been a long time coming but the proposal to transfer Barton Court, lock, stock and barrel, to The Bay, marks a significant step forward towards the resolution of a problem that I for one have been seeking to have addressed since I was first elected to parliament in 1983.
There is, of course, a long way to go before any deal is signed with the necessary funding in place and that, inevitably, will lead to an unwelcome period of uncertainty. If, though, that is the price that has to be paid to put an end to the daily transfer of pupils out of Herne Bay to selective schools in Canterbury, Thanet and Faversham then, if successful, it will have been worthwhile.
I believe that the Headteacher and Governors of Barton Court, working with the developer of the former golf course site, Mark Quinn, have shown very considerable courage in their determination to take the proposition forward. This is, literally, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tackle the future needs of the school and to take advantage of a major development that will provide much-needed high-quality housing and sports facilities for Herne Bay.
I understand, of course, that there will be those resident on the far side of Canterbury who will find the prospect of sending children to Herne Bay unpalatable or even logistically unachievable and as the scheme progresses there will, inevitably, be a period of adjustment and movement between schools as families position themselves to accommodate the extra accommodation that Barton Court will be able to offer in Herne Bay and places released in other locations. That, though, cannot be allowed to be a reason for opposing a move that will, when brought to fruition as I trust that it will be, benefit future generations of young people living not only in The Bay but in Chestfield, Tankerton and Whitstable also.