VILLAGERS fighting to keep ‘outstanding’ Clapham CoE Primary School open have formed a steering group following a public meeting to discuss proposals by North Yorkshire County Council to close it at the end of the summer.

More than 100 residents attended the ‘constructive and vibrant’ meeting, which was organised by the county council education authority and attended by ward councillors, David Ireton, and Carl Lis, who is also chairman of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

The council began a consultation on the proposed closure of the school in February, following a meeting of the school governors in November, last year. The consultation closes on April 4.

The council, together with the Leeds Anglican Diocese, say they believe it is in the best interests of current and future pupils of the school - which has just 28 on the roll - to close it at the end of the current academic year and move children to schools in Austwick, Ingleton, Bentham and Giggleswick.

The new steering group, including wider members of the community, says it will work alongside the school governors to both help and support them to put forward a robust and viable financial, demographic and educational case for keeping the school open.

Iain Crossley, group chairman, said: “While short-term economic considerations may have influenced North Yorkshire County Council to push for closure, the public meeting raised their awareness of new information which may answer many of their concerns about the future of the school.

“As a result of the consultation meeting, the steering group now feels able to put forward evidence that closure of Clapham would be short-sighted and not in the best interests of the children, parents or the wider community.”

In 2017, the primary school at Horton-in-Ribblesdale was closed after considerable local objection.

Just last week, Craven District Council’s Policy Committee recommended investing £20,000 in an action plan to attract younger people to the Dales. It includes assessing the minimum requirements to maintain a viable village school.