A LARGE new primary school in Silsden is essential to avoid an educational crisis, claim councillors.

Andrew Mallinson and Chris Atkinson say the existing two schools should be merged on a new site to cater for a massive increase in numbers.

They have called on the council to buy land in Silsden and get the school built before hundreds of new houses are built in the town.

The existing infant school, Aire View, already expects reception classes to dramatically increase over the three years, as children of existing Silsden families reach school age.

The councillors spoke as Ralph Berry, Bradford’s education boss, revealed to the Keighley News that a single replacement for Hothfield Junior School and Aire View was among options being explored.

He hinted that potential sites had been identified for the ambitious project, whose cost has been estimated by council officers at between £6 and £7 million.

Coun Berry said: “We have been discussing with the schools’ governing bodies for some time about extending the schools or looking at another site.

“In effect we’re looking at creating a new school. Two schools would be required to merge.”

District councillors Andrew Mallinson and Chris Atkinson, along with their fellow Craven ward councillor Adrian Naylor, attended a briefing meeting this week with senior Bradford Council education officials.

Coun Mallinson said he was “extremely concerned” to learn of the situation facing Silsden’s growing child population.

He said: “There is no land on the existing school sites for near them to extend. There’s only enough capacity in Silsden for the next two or three years, then it will be breaking point.”

“My fear is that we’ll end up with a lot of portable buildings around the school sites to take up that capacity.”

Coun Atkinson -- who is also Silsden’s town mayor – claimed that council officers at the meeting accepted Silsden was heading for a crisis.

He said: “With 1,000 houses coming they’ve got to do something. You can’t go on building houses – you need to have the infrastructure. It’s coming back to bite the council.”

Coun Atkinson said that several years ago Bradford had earmarked a site between Silsden Park and Daisy Hill for a new school, but this was now too small.

Coun Berry said the council also hoped to secure the future of the swimming pool currently in the Hothfield School complex.

He added: “We‘re looking carefully to see that all the needs are met. We want to ensure we deliver a school building. There are sites and options that are being looked at.”