THE END could be in sight for Kingston's primary school places crisis, as the government announced an extra £200 million to help local authorities cope.
Kingston and Surbiton MP Edward Davey, who launched a parliamentary debate just three months ago, said he was quietly confident Kingston would qualify for the cash but said "the champagne is still on ice...for now."
Local authorities will be able to bid for the money if they fit a strict criteria, due to be announced in the next few days.
Mr Davey said: "It appears the criteria for allocating this money will help authorities like Kingston but until we see the actual funds ministers will give Kingston the champagne must stay on ice.
"However I'm happy, and I must say surprised, at the progress this campaign has made. The the space of a couple of months the government has turned around and admitted that we, and several other London boroughs, are in a very serious situation and urgently need help."
The criteria is expected to be based on a council's ability to use a share of the cash to provide primary school places by 2011, whether it can prove an exceptional growth in demand for reception classes and whether it has other sources of funding extra places open to it.
Mr Davey joined forces with London Councils, which represents all local authorities in the capital, to call for government help following a massive surge in the number of parents applying for primary school places in Kingston.
Last June more than 200 youngsters were left without a primary school place, forcing the council to invest in temporary classrooms. Education chiefs pushed forward the deadline for applications this year and even more temporary classrooms are already planned for September, bringing the total number of portable classrooms on the borough's school playing fields to 16.
"I'm sure officers at Kingston will be working very hard on securing this vital funding, which purely covers the next financial year," said Mr Davey. "If we do get a decent allocation this could be the end of the beginning for providing an adequate number of places for our primary school pupils."