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Leading councillor should be fired over school places crisis

November 9, 2009 1:21 PM
Lucy Nethsingha

Lucy Nethsingha

Leading county councillor David Harty should be sacked over his failure to deal with the appalling shortage of Cambridge primary school places.

The call for the Cabinet Member for Learning to be fired comes as Tories plan to meet in secret today (Monday) to discuss the crisis.

"The Tories are struggling," said West Chesterton County Councillor Kevin Wilkins. "They don't know which way to turn and Cllr Harty has done nothing in the last 12 months to address this crisis.

"He should be sacked. He must take full responsibility for this appalling situation. He knew the extent of this problem a year ago and he has failed to act. Now his only solution is to suggest adding mobile classrooms to existing schools without upgrading facilities. This is totally unacceptable."

Members of Cambridgeshire County Council's Schools Policy Development Group are due to meet today.

Despite calls from the Lib Dems to open the group to the public, the meeting will be held behind closed doors.

Newnham County Councillor, Lucy Nethsingha has demanded that the Tories make a commitment to parents that there will be sufficient school places for their children in the next three years and that siblings will not be sent to different schools.

"Cllr Harty and his Tory colleagues saw this crisis coming but failed to do anything about it," she said. "Our children are starting school on sites that were designed to take only half the number of pupils with facilities to match.

"It is extremely unlikely that badly needed school building and refurbishment programmes will go-ahead now. This is an absolute catastrophe which should never have been allowed to happen."

Cambridge City Executive Councillor Clare Blair, who sits on the Cambridgeshire Childrens Trust, said: "The Tories are floundering. They are discussing this crisis in secret because they don't know how which way to turn to find a solution.

"There has been a serious lack of forward planning here and our children are going to be seriously disadvantaged because of their mistakes. This is an appalling state of affairs and should never have happened. The Tories knew the extent of this problem a year ago: it did not come out of the blue. But they failed to respond and that is unforgivable."