Thursday, February 23, 2006

Stop digging Trisha!

Today's meeting considered feedback from the 'consultation' process on plans to close or merge 17 schools.

As Shadow Education Spokesperson, I went to a couple of the public meetings and also visited some of the schools and met head teachers and staff. I was impressed by the excellent way schools constructed their case for survival - and the overwhelming level of parental protest.

It became clear today that the case for closure and merger - in at least 11 of the 17 - simply could not be made.

I always thought the plans were so ill-thought out that they seemed to have been drawn up on the back of a fag packet.

Some of the schools on the hit-list only have a handful of surplus places.

Today, the plan was shown up for the nonsense it always was.

On several of today's votes, when the chairman asked for those in favour of recommending closure and merger, there were none.

Nil points.

Not one backbench Conservative councillor put their hand up to support the plan their Executive had forced through with such indecent haste.

Now we must wait until tomorrow lunchtime to see if the Portfolio Holder listens.

If Councillor Mrs Bradwell has any sense, she'll listen, stop digging and put the entire process on hold until we have a proper, sensible, and sustainable policy that deals with the bulk of the 10,000 surplus places in our primary schools right across the county.

Cutting parental choice by closing infant and junior schools was foisted on us as the urgent measures we must take to deal with surplus places.

The truth was we have many all-through primary schools with far more empty places than some of the schools on the council's hitlist.

That's why I fought for a county-wide debate to help formulate a proper strategy.

It just goes to show that if you try to put the cart before the horse, they'll always be trouble ahead!!

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