PARENTS have vowed to fight plans to merge two village primary schools as part of a major shake-up of education.

Durham County Council announced last week that it was looking to merge Eldon Lane and Dene Valley Primary Schools in a bid to reduce surplus places.

But parents from Eldon Lane Primary School have vowed to fight the proposal to close both schools and house them in a new building by 2005.

Julie Barlow, who has children at the school, said that parents would do what they could to stop Eldon Lane from closing.

She said: "A lot of the parents are angry because we do not know what is going on. We do not want Eldon Lane Primary to close. It is a good school.''

The two schools are among nine in County Durham that have been earmarked as top priority in a programme to tackle the county's 17 per cent primary pupil shortfall.

Earlier this year the local education authority revealed that up to 23 schools could close in the next ten to 15 years as part of the shake-up.

Both Dene Valley and Eldon Lane were listed for closure at that time but parents from both schools said that would leave villages in the Dene Valley without a school.

Mrs Barlow said that parents were frustrated at the uncertainty surrounding the schools and had many questions that need answering.

She is among parents who have requested a public meeting as soon as possible to discuss the schools' fate.

She said: "We want to know where they are looking at building this new school for a start.

"They are telling us that nothing definite has been decided but they are also saying that this new school could be up and running in 2005.

"I have a daughter who will start school in September and I don't want the upheaval of having her change schools.''

Headteachers at both schools have declined to comment on the proposals but a spokesman for Durham County Council assured parents that no decisions had been made.

He said that the proposals were very much in the stages of early consultation and parents would be consulted.