GOVERNORS of Sutton under Whitestonecliffe CE School say it must move to a new site or face closure.

It had been hoped that the tiny school might be able to expand when the site it occupies is redeveloped into a village hall, but governors say the only viable option is to move.

An outline planning application has been submitted to move the school to a greenfield site just outside the village on the road to Thirlby, but this has met with opposition from neighbours.

There is space for two 30-pupil classrooms, though attendance is not expected to rise above 45, and a large play area which the present site lacks.

Monday's parish council meeting heard objections from people who live near the site, saying they had not been properly consulted. A letter of objection from five residents was read out which stated that building on the greenfield site was outside the development limits set by Hambleton District Council. There were also concerns about access, increased traffic and flooding.

School governors David Weston and Michael Scatchard replied that the site entrance had good visibility in both directions and a bus service would be provided to take the children to and from school.

They said the bus service put in place to take children to the present school had been praised by the parish council for helping to reduce traffic.

Mr Scatchard said it was planned to extend the Sutton to Thirlby footpath which runs alongside Eden House to encourage pupils to walk.

Mr Weston added that the flood risk was minimal and could be addressed by drainage work.

After the meeting, Mr Weston said: "The only options are to move or close. We cannot provide the full curriculum on that site and negotiations to expand have gone on for years with no conclusion.

"We are classed as a Beacon school, but the children are working in what must be some of the worst conditions in the country. The new site is fantastic and will really give the children a chance to enjoy excellent facilities and surroundings."

Gareth Dadd, county councillor for Thirsk, said that in principle he was very supportive of the idea, considering the excellent standard of education provided by the school, but would ensure that all arguments were considered by the county council.

Parish council chairman John Goodall said: "We have always been supportive of a new village school in the right place. We want a better school and more facilities for the children, but it all needs to be done properly."

Councillors agreed to defer making any comment until North Yorkshire County Council clarified the bus collection points and the level of consultation carried out with neighbours.