Campaigners' anti-academy victories

Christopher Hawtree is the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Hove
Christopher Hawtree is the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Hove

Campaigners against Hove Park School becoming an academy scored significant victories.

Campaigners against Hove Park School becoming an academy have scored two significant victories.

Three candidates who expressed views against the school converting to an academy won seats on the governing body on Wednesday.

In a significant development, the longstanding vacancies were filled by Hands Off Hove Park School campaigners, Sarah Arjun and Mark Radcliffe – along with Andrew Whippey, whose candidate statement indicated he was against academy conversion.

The election results - which coincided with a strike by teachers opposed to the plans - came only a day after 71% of parents voted against the academy plans in a (non-binding) council-run ballot.

The parental ballot revealed 387 of the 544 respondents were opposed to academy status. The council sent out 1,528 ballot papers, with a return rate of 35.6%.

Brighton and Hove City Council instructed the school to carry out the separate parent-governor elections when anti-academy campaigners discovered three out of the six posts for parent-governors had been left vacant, one since December 2013.

Sharon Duggal, a Hands Off Hove Park campaigner, who finished fourth in the polls, said: “This sends another very, very clear message to the school that people just do not want Hove Park to become an academy."

Peter Kyle, the Labour parliamentary candidate for Hove - and a former governor at Portslade Aldridge Academy and chair of Brighton Aldridge Academy - said: “25% of parents have registered opposition to academy status via the council-orchestrated ballot and I am confident this will be taken into consideration by Hove Park governors as part of a wide-ranging consultation.

“I hope more than anything that politicians and campaigners from outside of the Hove Park community will now respect the need for parents, governors, and teachers to conclude this difficult process with a period of calm in order to fully engage with the local opportunities and concerns that have been thrown up by this debate.”

Earlier, Councillor Andrew Wealls, Conservative Group spokesperson, thanked parents and carers who voted in the parental ballot: “It is great that so many of them care passionately about the future direction of Hove Park School.

“The ballot will feed into the wider ongoing consultation and will form part of the information that the headteacher and governors will need to digest in order to come to a final decision.”

Councillor Christopher Hawtree, the Green councilor who represents Central Hove, said: “Naturally, I am delighted at both the resounding voice of the parental ballot and their winning those three places on the board of governors which had been mysteriously empty."

A decision by governors about an academy application is expected on September 22.