THE trust that runs Devizes School has been accused of 'asset striping' as it prepares to send a bid for the £2m sell-off of playing fields to the government.

But headteacher Phil Bevan insisted this week that no final decision has been made about the controversial plans to sell off nearly six acres of land for housing. He said focus groups for staff and pupils would be held after half-term.

When the plan was first put forward pupils staged a day long protest and carried Save Our Playing Field placards across the land.

At a public meeting parents and people living in the town expressed fears about traffic congestion, pollution and noise.

Parent Colin Carter said: “It is an awful way of treating people. Completely ignoring public feeling both inside and outside of the school.

“It really is short sighted once the land is sold, it's gone for good.

“The White Horse Federation is asset stripping the school. They should never have taken the school on if they didn’t have the monies to maintain it.”

Mr Carter said that he had been told by Dr Nicholas Capstick, CEO of the White Horse Federation, that the trust had not realised how bad a state of repair some of the buildings were in when they took on the school.

In a statement from the trust put on the school website last week it outlines the timeline for selling-off the land to raise cash to make improvements to the school.

It says that the business case will go to the Department For Education in February or March.

It says: “Devizes School is required to submit a thorough document to the Department for Education containing various details about the land sale, as well as all the feedback gathered during the official consultation period.

“The DfE conducts a comprehensive review of the business case. During this process, Devizes will continue to consult with focus groups and stakeholders throughout the time that the business case is being reviewed.

“Upon concluding the review, which can last between eight and 18 weeks, the DfE will make a final decision on whether or not to permit the land sale.”

An ecological survey is to be carried out to decide if development of the land will have a negative impact on plants and wildlife.

The trust says that a potential purchaser of the land may go-ahead with a pre-planning application to Wiltshire Council while the business case is being looked at.

Mr Bevan said the discussion was about consultation not confrontation and pledged all money would be spent at the school.

He took the Gazette on a tour of the most rundown areas of the school, pointing out where the £2 million could be spent creating better eating areas and where old classrooms could be made much more welcoming.