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Urgent Borough Hall Meeting Called as Lib Dems seek Answers to Key Questions on School Restructuring Consultation

May 6, 2009 5:36 PM
Classroom with School Children

People must be able to make their minds up over schools restructuring on the basis of the 'full picture,'' say Bedford Borough Lib Dems

Bedford Borough Liberal Democrats have called an urgent meeting of the Council's Scrutiny Committee prior to the publication of a consultation document on restructuring the local schools system. The meeting will take place at Borough Hall on Wednesday 13th May and will provide an opportunity for a public examination of the issues around schools restructuring before the Council's consultation document is published later this month.

The meeting was called by the Scrutiny Committee's Vice-Chair and Liberal Democrat Group Education Spokesman Cllr Michael Headley, who commented: "The Mayor has decided that there will be a consultation on a plan to restructure the local schools system - but the details of the plan will not be revealed until later this month. Before that point it is essential that a number of key unanswered questions surrounding this vital issue are examined thoroughly. We must ensure that the consultation is open and fair. It must allow a full debate on all the far-reaching implications of such a fundamental change to the education of local children and young people.'

"Pupils, parents, staff, schools and the wider community will obviously be very anxious to know exactly what will be proposed for individual schools, and the council has promised that these details will be included in the consultation document. There are other important, practical issues where the information released so far by the council has raised as many questions as answers. For example, how will any phasing work in practice, when children move between schools at different stages of redevelopment?' In the current economic climate, is there a danger that we will not get past phase one, leaving an uneven, impractical system?'

"Next week's urgent meeting will also allow us to seek answers to important questions over the funding of any schools re-organisation. Local residents have a right to know what impact schools restructuring will have on council tax bills. People must be able to make up their minds on this crucial issue on the basis of the whole picture."

The key questions to which the Lib Dems will be seeking answers at the urgent meeting include:

• Will the consultation be open, transparent and even-handed?

• How will questions around the practical issues of carrying out restructuring in 'phases,' such as children moving between schools at different stages of redevelopment and any danger of the process halting before all phases are complete, be dealt with?

• What are the full implications for local council taxpayers, and will they be made clear?