DOZENS of residents attended a public meeting after concerns were raised about a new secondary school opening two years late.

Essex County Council said, in 2013, a new secondary school would open at the Chesterwell site in Mile End, Colchester, this year.

It now says the school, Trinity Academy, which is set to take 180 pupils per year, will not open until September 2021.

Some parents on the 1,600-home Chesterwell estate applying for places in Year 7 this year have been offered Colchester Academy - four miles away.

After the Gazette broke the story, Ray Gooding, the cabinet member for education, agreed to attend the public meeting at St Michael's Church, Mile End, which was attended by 40 members of the public.

Will Quince, MP for Colchester, councillors and the county council's education officer also attended in a bid to address concerns - including whether the school would be built in 2021.

Despite assurances designs and processes for construction work were going ahead at the moment, it emerged the county council wants to see updated plans from Mersea Homes before they release any funds.

Residents were also told the county council needs to urgently give feedback on the planning application for the school, which was submitted to Colchester Council last December.

But Mark Pinkham, Essex County Council's education officer, insisted there would be no issues with the school opening in 2021.

He added by 2021 forecasts shows there will be a deficit of 97 schools places, so the new school needs to be built.

It will have 180 places to start, with capability to expand from 2021.

The meeting heard Essex County Council will investigate providing community transport for Colchester Academy, if there is demand from enough pupils who live in Great Horkesley, Boxted and Mile End.

The council has said it built Paxman Academy, Shrub End, due to open this September, before the Trinity Academy because more housing would be built in south Colchester before the north of the town.

It has meanwhile insisted there are sufficient school places in Colchester and has pointed to expansions at the Gilberd (about 2.5 miles from Chesterwell) and at Stanway and Philip Morant schools, which are both about five miles from Chesterwell.

Martin Goss, Lib Dem councillor for Mile End, who chaired the meeting, said: "It was a well attended meeting and everyone was passionate but respectful.

"The bottom line is government policy doesn’t help with the decentralisation of education and we now have a broken situation in our community.

"Children will be displaced and we have to do our best to support those affected until the new school opens in 2021. Rest assured I’m holding all those responsible to account."