Hitchin and Letchworth Labour activists address national party conference

Hitchin Labour activist Kay Tart addressing the national party conference on the subject of school f

Hitchin Labour activist Kay Tart addressing the national party conference on the subject of school funding. Picture: Helen Oliver - Credit: Archant

Labour activists from Hitchin and Letchworth addressed the national party conference in Liverpool yesterday.

Hitchin Labour’s Kay Tart, one of the founders of the Hitchin and Harpenden Parents Against School Cuts campaign, gave a speech on the subject of education funding.

And Amy Allen, chairman of the Letchworth and Baldock branch of North East Hertfordshire Labour, spoke passionately about foodbanks and the new Universal Credit benefit.

Both were conference delegates and speakers for the first time.

Kay, who has been selected to stand for the party in next year’s local elections, told the conference that a Labour government should introduce a National Education Service that would “see an end to the crippling school cuts that Prime Minister Theresa May has implemented as part of austerity”.

The mum-of-five called for an end to high-stakes testing for primary pupils – which she said was contributing to an “epidemic in mental health problems in children” – and criticised league tables and the idea of competition between schools as “ridiculous”.

She concluded: “We must invest properly in our children’s future, and we must let our kids be kids.”

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Amy started by saying she was proud to represent women on the autism spectrum, adding: “There are far more of us than you think.”

She told the conference that last year her 11-year-old son gave up all his Christmas presents to help fund the Letchworth foodbank.

“I am incredibly proud of him,” she said, to much applause.

“He inspired people to donate towards his cause, and he ended up raising £260 for our foodbank last year – to buy Christmas treats for children who weren’t going to get something.”

Turning to Universal Credit, which is set to roll out in North Hertfordshire and Stevenage next month, Amy said many people were not ready.

“There are many people who don’t realise it’s going to affect them – that it’s going to take away the tax credits they receive,” said Amy, whose husband Daniel is a Labour councillor for Letchworth Grange ward.

“My 11-year-old autistic son can understand the appalling existence of foodbanks in this country – why can’t this Tory government?

“It’s ridiculous that we are relying on the goodwill and charity of the people here instead of the government that is supposed to provide a service to us and look after us.”

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