School fight

It is a pity that Labour county councillor John Lloyd tries to make the recent U-turn by Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) over Building Schools for the Future (BSF) into a party political game. In his haste to attack me, he makes a number of factual err

It is a pity that Labour county councillor John Lloyd tries to make the recent U-turn by Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) over Building Schools for the Future (BSF) into a party political game. In his haste to attack me, he makes a number of factual errors or muddled statements.

It may surprise him to know that I have spoken to, and listened to, members of all three main parties locally, and those who have no party affiliation, about the current situation.

There is a world of difference between recommendations following a full town-wide consultation, as happened in 2007, and the hastily cobbled together shambles brought before the HCC Cabinet on January 14, involving expanding both Thomas Alleyne and Barclay on their current sites, despite previous statements by HCC that this was undesirable, and the lack of re-consultation, previously promised.

I have to point out that the Liberal Democrats tried to get the shambles, to which I refer, raised at the advisory Education Panel in early January, as soon as the U-turn became known. The ruling Conservatives refused this. The Education Panel is, in any case, only there to offer advice to Cabinet; the power lies with the latter. Consequently, I decided to ask the Conservative chairman for permission to speak on the issue at Cabinet on January 14 which, although it is very rare for an opposition member to be allowed this privilege, was agreed for me, on the strict understanding that I spoke for no more than five minutes on this issue alone.


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Other factual errors John makes are that I was allowed to speak as I was 'the only Liberal Democrat'; in fact there are 14 of us at HCC, but I asked to speak as I am the only Stevenage Liberal Democrat at HCC. Also that I 'did not mention Heathcote once'; if he had been present and paying attention, he would have heard me mention it in exactly the context of my letter of January 24, which is a fair summary of everything I said - that is, the U-turn reopens the closure of Heathcote, for the reasons given in that letter.

It seems that whether or not we can get the suggested move of Thomas Alleyne to Great Ashby re-opened, with consequential delay to the BSF programme, depends on the winning the agreement of Government ministers to the delay. I hope that members of all parties, and those individuals of no party, can help to support this request.

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ROBIN PARKER, Liberal Democrat County Councillor, Chells and Borough Councillor, Manor

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