Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Lib Dem grassroots revolt at scrapping new school buildings

Another day, another test for the coalition. Michael Gove's announcement that he was stopping plans to rebuild or refurbish 16 Westcountry schools has (unsurprisingly) not gone down well.

MPs of all parties are making noises about "requesting meetings" and urging rethinks. Local councillors are less subtle. Des Hannon, a Lib Dem, county councillor who has just seen plans evaporate for his local school in Tiverton to be rebuilt, is pretty blunt in this letter he is sending to Mr Gove.

Dear Sir

I wrote to you on the 15th of May to explain why Tiverton High School’s BSF project deserved your support. I told you about the huge strides made at GCSE. I told you about the money already invested by Devon council tax payers and about crumbling buildings and rapidly growing student numbers. I got a reply utterly free of substance.

I listened to your speech on BSF today with incredulity. You have set back the educational hopes of our community and undermined the trust of our young people in government. I’m at a loss as to how your proper criticism of the ‘bureaucracy’ of BSF can justify ditching our scheme after we’ve jumped through every hoop. In May I told you that scrapping our project would be ‘a gross and unforgivable injustice to our children.’ You’ve done it anyway.

You are enthusiastic about creating ‘free schools.’ I fear you intend to squander the investment Tiverton needs on an expensive fad of interest only in cities. As a parent in a market town, serving a large rural area, ‘choice’ isn’t my priority. I just want our local school to have buildings fit for the students and teachers inside.

In the wake of your decision I’d be grateful for answers to two questions. How will you renew our building and make it big enough for soaring student numbers? Will you reverse the dire under funding which has seen Devon children short changed by Labour and Conservative governments for decades?

I look forward to the courtesy of a reasoned response. Our children deserve it.

Yours faithfully,

Cllr Des Hannon (Devon County Council, Tiverton East)

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