Plea to protesters

By Jay Grenby, September 27, 2011

Opponents of the permanent site for the Etz Chaim free school in Mill Hill have welcomed an offer for dialogue by the trustees and governors. However, the bridge-building exercise has not persuaded objectors to back down.

The action group has signalled its intention to apply for a judicial review of Barnet Council's decision to grant planning permission for a Daws Lane site formerly occupied by a garden centre. It claims that the council has not given sufficient weight to the needs of the elderly and disabled.

Etz Chaim trustees have written to the group urging it to withdraw the threat of litigation. They emphasised that the school "will not [and cannot, under the terms of the contract it has signed with the Secretary of State for Education] sell the lease".

The letter concludes with an offer to open dialogue on "what Barnet, the community and the school can deliver".

Governors' chair Adam Dawson hoped opponents would take the letter "in the spirit in which it is meant and that we can together look at how we can make the school work for the whole community".

However, Action Mill Hill spokesman Gaon Hart dismissed the letter as "a bluff. The contract with the Secretary of State would not apply in the event we were successful and no school goes on the site. Contrary to suggestions, our aim is not simply to delay the opening of the school, but to win our case and get the site back for the benefit of the community."

Last updated: 3:07pm, September 27 2011