Sunday, September 10, 2006

Garth School: Tories wrongly shift blame to local paper

Tory councillor Trisha Bradwell - who claimed parents at a school threatened with closure had let her down HERE and HERE - has now made an astonishing attack on a local paper.

Trisha, Exec Member for Children’s Services at Lincolnshire County Council, has accused the Spalding Guardian of “whipping up a story to frighten the parents” of Garth Special School.

Sometimes, the media gets it wrong and when that happens, we should expect them to put things right.

But in this case, I’m totally satisfied that Councillor Mrs Bradwell has made a disgraceful and unjustified attack on a community newspaper which has acted entirely honourably throughout this sorry episode.

It is Councillor Mrs Bradwell who is letting the parents down, not the other way round. She should have the decency to apologise without delay and withdraw her comments which were officially recorded and made at a public meeting of the Council. Her behaviour does nothing to rebuild confidence in Lincolnshire County Council following the Speechley/Croft affair.

When the parents went to the Spalding Guardian, their reporter Kate Barney quite properly spoke to a senior officer at the Council who confirmed that “informal talks” had begun to transfer the pupils at Garth School to The Willoughby in Bourne.

It was totally reasonable of Kate and the Guardian to conclude that closure was one of the options being considered.

Councillor Mrs Bradwell made her latest attack when I formally raised the issue with her at yesterday’s full Council meeting.

This was my question to her:

“Over the summer, parents at the Garth Special School in Spalding have launched a ‘Save our School’ campaign following confirmation that Lincolnshire County Council is looking at transferring pupils to a school in Bourne over 10 miles away.

“Last month, the Spalding Guardian reported on its front page that Councillor Mrs Bradwell had agreed to attend a meeting with parents, but backed out saying that the parents had let her down.

“In the same article, the Guardian quoted Councillor Mrs Bradwell as saying “We’re holding a full open meeting with Governors and parents in September.

“We are now in the second week of September and the parents have not been informed of the date of this meeting. Has a date been fixed and when are you going to inform the parents?”

Councillor Mrs Bradwell replied:

“Thank you Councillor Dilks for highlighting this issue.

“We have been working with the Governors of Garth School for many months to help find a new head teacher.

“I did agree to meet with five parents because they felt they had not had all the information.

“But at the eleventh hour, they decided the press was going to be there, and I decided in those circumstances I was not prepared to meet them.

“We have never said we are going to close the school.

“This is the local paper whipping up a story to frighten the parents.”

Councillor Mrs Bradwell added that the school summer holidays had contributed to difficulties but that an open meeting had now been arranged for September 28th.

She concluded by saying:

“There is no intention to close Garth School…we need to recruit a new specialist Head Teacher.”

Today, following the Council meeting, I spoke with two of the organisers of Garth Action Group. It was the first they had heard that a date has been "arranged".

What a complete cock-up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Phil could we have your views about the radio interview with councillor Bradwell on Radio Lincolnshire yesterday morning. she has stated as fact matters which are still subject to negotiation.
Also, as a member of staff I am disappointed that no mention has been made of the staff and their concerns - do we matter so little to lincoln?

Finally, why, with a total disregard for Governors, Staff and Parents/Carers was a press release issued saying the school will not close and will federate with the Priory School; without consultation with or forewarning the interested parties.

Has Councillor Bradwell had any training to deal with the Media?