Meadowbank Public School will be expanded to take over neighbouring land occupied by a Ryde Council depot under a proposal put forward this week by former Mayor Clr Jerome Laxale.

Under the proposal the Ryde depot will be relocated to vacant land next to the council tip at Macquarie Park with two years to enable new school buildings to be built within three years.

Councillor Laxale announced his proposal at the Shepherds Bay Community Centre during a community forum hosted by State Opposition Leader Luke Foley.

The Labor candidate for Ryde, Clr Laxale’s announcement responded to a question to Mr Foley from a parent who expressed concern that part of Meadowbank TAFE could be sliced off and developed as a new school.

“Right next to the Public School is council owned land but we need a public campaign to allow Meadowbank Public School to grow into the land,” he said.

“Ryde Council works staff deserve a bigger and better depot and this is an ideal opportunity to do something for this school community.

“Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be an issue if our local Liberal MP was up to speed on the needs of our schools and this is why we need a campaign.”

Councillor Laxale said Ryde has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in Sydney and it would be deplorable to sell off any part of the TAFE, which should be expanded for new apprenticeship courses.

Parents at the community forum berated Mr Foley on overcrowding, space shortages and enrolment issues at schools across Ryde which they blamed on poor government planning to meet the needs of rapidly developing neighbourhoods.

The forum also heard claims that Meadowbank Public had been denied two storey demountables but Mr Foley said local students deserve better.

“This government is developing high rise but the government is not develering communities,” he said.

“This is clearly a government failure because the Department of Education doesn’t even get to see the latest Department of Planning figures and its no wonder we’re building schools at one third of the pace we should be going at.

“In contrast, our policy is to create a big fund to not only replace demountables but to expand existing schools.”

Mr Foley said that when he is elected he will have an audit of all government land that could be made available for schools alongside a universal school planning code that will include Catholic and other private schools.

“Why are these schools forced to compete with Coles and Bunnings for land?” he asked.