Merger fight D-day looms

Martin Hesketh (left) and Ray Allis of the KEQMS No To The Takeover campaign
Martin Hesketh (left) and Ray Allis of the KEQMS No To The Takeover campaign

IT’S D-day next week in the fight to maintain the independence of King Edward and Queen Mary School.

The No To The Takeover group of parents head for the Tribunal Service’s headquarters in South east London for a crucial two-day appeal hearing on Wednesday and Thursday.

It is expected to decide once and for all whether the planned merger between KEQMS and Blackpool’s Arnold School, under the United Church Schools Trust, can go ahead.

The UCST is already working towards the merger, set to come into effect from September, but the parents, who have been battling to maintain’s the Lytham school’s independence since the merger was announced in September, are hopeful of overturning it.

They are appealing to a First Tier Tribunal against the Charity Commission’s decision to allow the merger.

The parents’ group, who have so far generated more than £37,000 towards a ‘fighting fund’ to cover legal costs, are set to be backed by a large number of supporters, keen to make the most of the fact that the hearing will be in public,

Travel plans were still being awaited as we went to press, with parents and former pupils waiting to hear just how many of them could be accommodated and the exact schedule for the hearing.

The NTTT group will be represented at the formal hearing by London-based barrister Hubert Picarda.

Ray Allis and Martin Hesketh of the group of parents will stand as appellants and Mr Allis said: “I am unable to comment on the details, but I believe that the case we are putting forward is as strong as possible.

“It would be wrong of me to predict the outcome but I feel we are doing everything we possibly can to secure independence for KEQMS.”

King Edward VII School dates back to 1908. It merged in 1999 with Queen Mary School, with a history of its own dating back to 1930. UCST intend for the merged school, to be known as AKS, to operate on its current sites initially but have submitted plans for extend KEQMS’ Fairhaven site.