COUNCILLORS have been in discussion whether to increase the number of primary school places in St Helens for September 2015.

The proposal has been sparked by concerns there could be a shortage of school places.

Under the proposal, admissions numbers would rise by 40 - from 2,225 to 2,265.

The cost of adapting school premises to accommodate the extra pupils has not yet been fully calculated but it is believed it will be at least £880,000.

The growing need for primary school places is thought to be due to two factors: the increasing birth rate and people moving into the borough - including migrant workers and Traveller communities.

Areas where demand for places is likely to increase are Rainhill, Haydock, Newton, Earlestown, Parr, Rainford, Thatto Heath and the town centre.

A council report states that since the issue was first raised in 2012, there have "continued to be emerging pressures on the existing primary school structure".

As a result of the pressures, the council had to take "emergency measures" and admit five extra children to Willow Tree Primary and Broad Oak Primary due to lack of places in the Sutton, Bold and Parr areas.

There has also been increased use of the 'fair access protocol' which is used when it is not possible to allocate school places within a two-mile walking distance from home.

The council report states the situation is "not ideal for the efficient and effective delivery of education".

Although five out of the borough's nine secondary schools were fully or oversubscribed for the September 2014 intake, it is not thought additional places are needed at secondary schools at present, although this will continue to be reviewed.

The cabinet meeting was set to take place yesterday (Weds) at the Town Hall.