Residents of the wealthy village of Stoke Poges in Buckinghamshire are threatening to vote UKIP after the decision to reinstate the permit of a Sikh faith school on the 18th September.
After listening to both arguments posed by officials of the Khalsa secondary school and the South Bucks District Council, Communities secretary Eric Pickles ruled that the Khalsa faith school would be allowed to continue its session from the £4.5 million office building it was granted to operate from last year. This debate followed through Michael Gove's, former Secretary of State for Education, appeal for allowing the Sikh school to stay on a permanent basis.
At a meeting last week 200 villagers are continuing to oppose the Khalsa Sikh institution. Tory councillor Trevor Egleton insisted this was due to environmental reasons as the village is in the green belt area. The district council had originally only given the school a one-year permit stating that there were problems with traffic and noise pollution.
Local Tory MP, the former attorney general Dominic Grieve, is already under threat from a rise in UKIP support in the village. The incident with the school is now triggering further anxiety around Tory defectors. Grieve said he was 'very disappointed' with Pickles' decision. 'The planning inspector said they shouldn’t build here because of the noise. For him to overrule something so basic makes a mockery of the planning process.'
Ranjit Sandhu of the Khalsa Academy Parents Group said: 'It’s been a long hard fought battle but we are just very pleased about the decision (…) Unfortunately it’s been very sad because it’s not something we wanted to go through but we’re glad it’s over now and the decision has been made. Hopefully we will be able to build some bridges with the local community and show them that it’s the right decision.' The school which buses students into Stoke Poges from Slough and west London, offers Punjabi and Sikh studies and a meditation programme in addition to the national curriculum.