The political dance over the ransom strip of land at the centre of the schools' debate has taken another spin.

Colchester Council's cabinet has agreed to support the motion to welcome the £130 million of Government funding for the school.

And it will release the land at Painter's Corner off Norman Way, Colchester, for a road - but only if it can be proved that getting the Government money depends on it.

And only if the public agrees.

Philip Morant School has asked for the land to be given up so a new access road can be built to the school.

Concerns have been raised for years over cars winding through narrow estate roads to get to the school.

And it is feared the situation will get worse if the school is expanded as part of the reorganisation.

Last week, a majority of 32 councillors supported a Conservative motion which called for the council's support for the investment in Colchester's secondary education.

The motion also stated that "nothing should be done, or left undone, which would impede or hinder this investment and that Colchester Council should fully co-operate with Essex County Council to help secure this multi-million pound investment".

The Conservatives have claimed Philip Morant School will only support the reorganisation if an access road is built to the school from Norman Way.

And without the school's support, they claim the bid for the funding will be lost.

Anne Turrell, leader of Colchester Council, has already rejected a £5 million package to hand over the land to Essex County Council and said she does not want to be party to the reorganisation which will see two schools close.

But she said she and the Cabinet could not ignore the majority of the council.

She said: "Where you have a full council meeting where the majority voted for us to sell that piece of land, we, as a Cabinet, cannot ignore it.

"The fairest way to deal with this for us to get proof that the road is central to the success of securing the investment and to go out to public consultation.

"Then we will make a fully informed decision."

The Cabinet agreed to support the Conservative motion but with two conditions attached.

They will write to the county council and the Government and ask them to put in writing that the money would be lost if the road is not built.

The council will also launch public consultation next week asking residents for their views on the issue.

Mrs Turrell said: "It is part of the Local Government Act that if we are going to dispose of public open space, whether through a sale or a swap, we have to go out to public consultation."

Nigel Offen, Lib Dem cabinet member, said: “I’m certainly not prepared to see that piece of land covered by a road unless we have good evidence the money depends on that access.”

However, Mrs Turrell insisted her personal position had remained the same.

"We have not agreed to build the road yet and personally, I don't want it.

"However, we don't want to lose the £130 million to improve schools in Colchester and we also have to act on the motion which was agreed at full council."

The agreement was unanimously supported by the Cabinet although Martin Hunt, portfolio holder for communications, was not allowed to vote. As ward councillor and a long-term opponent to the road scheme, he was considered to have a prejudicial interest.

Kevin Bentley, leader of Colchester Council’s Conservatives, told the meeting Government funding would be in doubt if an agreement was not reached.

He said: “The chances of public funding being slashed are extremely high which is why the money is on the table now and we must grab it while we can.”