Free school plan for Bristol Central Library challenged

Bristol Central Library Much of the stock held in the basements would be stored off-site

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Plans to turn the basement of Bristol's Central Library into a free school are being challenged by politicians opposed to the idea.

Mayor George Ferguson had approved plans to lease the lower two floors to the new Cathedral Primary School.

But the plans have been called-in and, if upheld, will face additional scrutiny from the council or the mayor.

The two floors are not directly used by the public, but house some 270,000 reference and lending store books.

'Primary places shortfall'

Much of this store would be relocated to an off-site warehouse.

The school's executive principal, Neil Blundell, said at a time when Bristol must make a massive £90m in savings, its proposal "does not cost the city a penny".

"In fact, it brings in capital investment direct from central government and even releases funds to invest in the future of the libraries service."

He added the 420 proposed places would help meet about 10% of Bristol's primary school places shortfall.

But Conservative councillor Richard Eddy said there had been an "abject failure to adequately consult over these controversial plans".

Rob Telford, from the Greens, said when the matter was last scrutinised in November councillors had "grave misgivings" and did not support the idea.

He added since then "nothing has changed" and the matter now requires "urgent reconsideration".

Cathedral Primary School opened in temporary premises in September.

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