Updated: Schools consultation branded a sham

Gazette: Lord Hanningfield at the meeting Lord Hanningfield at the meeting

THE architects of plans to close two Colchester secondary schools did not listen to the views of parents, residents and politicians, a meeting heard.

About 100 people had their say on Essex County Council plans to close Thomas, Lord Audley and Alderman Blaxill schools.

Council leader Lord Hanningfield was questioned about the reason thousands of votes for Option Four, to retain the schools, under the control of Stanway School, were ignored.

He told the meeting at the Weston Homes Community Stadium the three schools would have attracted £750,000 less in revenue each year, making the option unviable.

“I’m afraid it was never a starter,” he said. “It was never possible to operate it – for financial or legal reasons.

“We have well-thought-out proposals by a group of education officers. This is a plan for an excellent educational system in Colchester for the future.”

Borough councillor Lesley Scott-Boutell said: “In the last round of consultation, 4,400 people signed the petition supporting Option Four and a further 2,254 signed a petition entitled Save Our Local School.

“This is what the people of Colchester wanted. Listen to what the local people say. Is this true consultation, or just an exercise in telling us what we’re going to get?”

Richard Doyle, who has put four children through Thomas, Lord Audley, said County Hall should encourage strong schools to help struggling ones, rather than closing them.

He said: “I really like the idea of strong schools holding out their hands to schools which need it.”

County director of learning, Terry Reynolds, said there were problems with Option Four, particularly the fact the Government’s funding formula would mean less money for the schools.

He said: “Running a school with £750,000 less a year, in our view, would call into question whether Option Four was financially viable.

“It also wouldn’t have dealt with removing surplus capacity.”

Comments (21)

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8:54am Fri 6 Mar 09

Flip Flop says...

It's all about money, it has nothing to do with children or their education. If the proposal for closing down the schools and opening just one new school was going to cost twice the money, it wouldn't happen. When the council elections come along, we need to vote for candidates not parties. This will probably mean you will be voting for an independent (probably a neighbour) who has a real interest in local community and does not have to toe the rich man, out of touch party line.
It's all about money, it has nothing to do with children or their education. If the proposal for closing down the schools and opening just one new school was going to cost twice the money, it wouldn't happen. When the council elections come along, we need to vote for candidates not parties. This will probably mean you will be voting for an independent (probably a neighbour) who has a real interest in local community and does not have to toe the rich man, out of touch party line. Flip Flop

10:12am Fri 6 Mar 09

Sidney Harbour-Bridge says...

No surprises there then, and exactly the same will happen over fortnightly bin collections
No surprises there then, and exactly the same will happen over fortnightly bin collections Sidney Harbour-Bridge

10:18am Fri 6 Mar 09

guyfawkes999 says...

I agree with Flip Flop.

This consultation process was a sham and the three main parties Labour, The Tories and the LibDems should hang their heads in shame - but they won't.

It's time to vote for local indpendent candidates who aren't part of the old boys and old girsl network.
I agree with Flip Flop. This consultation process was a sham and the three main parties Labour, The Tories and the LibDems should hang their heads in shame - but they won't. It's time to vote for local indpendent candidates who aren't part of the old boys and old girsl network. guyfawkes999

10:50am Fri 6 Mar 09

bruce67 says...

Essex County Council clearly dont care about what parents want for their children!

Ths consulatations are purely lip service and a requirment under law...they will do what they want t do and no amount of talking seems to change their view on it...arrogance and not listening to the people!!!

Essex County Council clearly dont care about what parents want for their children! Ths consulatations are purely lip service and a requirment under law...they will do what they want t do and no amount of talking seems to change their view on it...arrogance and not listening to the people!!! bruce67

11:54am Fri 6 Mar 09

MerylthePeril says...

The crazy rules introduced by the Labour government for education authorities to qualify for this funding are undemocratic and destructive. The fact that the Essex Tories are playing the game just to get the money shows they are just as bad. And LibDems have done exactly the same in other places. The whole system is wrong. When the Hanningfield plan goes through, all parents should withdraw their children from school in protest. Then the school teachers will not have to go to work and can offer to teach the kids who are no longer in school on a private/voluntary basis. Then we will have our own community education service!
The crazy rules introduced by the Labour government for education authorities to qualify for this funding are undemocratic and destructive. The fact that the Essex Tories are playing the game just to get the money shows they are just as bad. And LibDems have done exactly the same in other places. The whole system is wrong. When the Hanningfield plan goes through, all parents should withdraw their children from school in protest. Then the school teachers will not have to go to work and can offer to teach the kids who are no longer in school on a private/voluntary basis. Then we will have our own community education service! MerylthePeril

12:12pm Fri 6 Mar 09

Sdapeze says...

No surprise here then! It always was a done deal.
No surprise here then! It always was a done deal. Sdapeze

12:20pm Fri 6 Mar 09

Boris says...

The Hanningfield line has consistently been "only a minority of you have said you are against us, so that proves that the silent majority support us".
Such arrogance. How can he possibly know what silent people think?
The same attitude was displayed by the recent and unlamented Tory administration in Colchester. So mendacious, so contemptuous of the people who elected them.
Disturbingly, not long ago I was at a meeting (on another topic) with a couple of members of Colchester's current Lib Dem administration, and the same argument was trotted out. I left with a feeling of utter despair.
The invented support of the "silent majority" is the last refuge of the political scoundrel.
The Hanningfield line has consistently been "only a minority of you have said you are against us, so that proves that the silent majority support us". Such arrogance. How can he possibly know what silent people think? The same attitude was displayed by the recent and unlamented Tory administration in Colchester. So mendacious, so contemptuous of the people who elected them. Disturbingly, not long ago I was at a meeting (on another topic) with a couple of members of Colchester's current Lib Dem administration, and the same argument was trotted out. I left with a feeling of utter despair. The invented support of the "silent majority" is the last refuge of the political scoundrel. Boris

1:59pm Fri 6 Mar 09

The Islander says...

When Lord Hanningfield visited the local primary near me to dicuss the plans, it seemed he had already made his mind up on which option would be chosen. Also he was not interested in any questions put forward and at some points actually looked bored!!! This is the person in charge of education in north essex!!!! A JOKE!!!
When Lord Hanningfield visited the local primary near me to dicuss the plans, it seemed he had already made his mind up on which option would be chosen. Also he was not interested in any questions put forward and at some points actually looked bored!!! This is the person in charge of education in north essex!!!! A JOKE!!! The Islander

4:12pm Fri 6 Mar 09

bruce67 says...

Lord Hanningfield should resign...there is a facebook group supporting this view!
Lord Hanningfield should resign...there is a facebook group supporting this view! bruce67

5:13pm Fri 6 Mar 09

sh&dh says...

it is all about money - thats all he ever goes on about! What Lord Hanningfield & Essex County Council haven't taken into account is that we will be getting the overspill from London prior to the 2012 Olympics, the Millenium baby boom (our current yr 2 & 3 children) and the current baby boom due to the Soldiers coming home and also to the recession as people cannot afford to go out!! What will happen then if there ae not enough school places for them children? It is proven that the smaller schools - which both Alderman Blaxill and Thomas, Lord Audley are, are better for some children than those which are packed with 1500+ pupils. How can closing these schools benefit them children, especially as the government are saying that "Every Child Matters", some will not if they close both these schools. I am proud that my child will be going to one of these 2 schools in September as they will then get the education and support that they need and not get lost in a 'large school' system.
it is all about money - thats all he ever goes on about! What Lord Hanningfield & Essex County Council haven't taken into account is that we will be getting the overspill from London prior to the 2012 Olympics, the Millenium baby boom (our current yr 2 & 3 children) and the current baby boom due to the Soldiers coming home and also to the recession as people cannot afford to go out!! What will happen then if there ae not enough school places for them children? It is proven that the smaller schools - which both Alderman Blaxill and Thomas, Lord Audley are, are better for some children than those which are packed with 1500+ pupils. How can closing these schools benefit them children, especially as the government are saying that "Every Child Matters", some will not if they close both these schools. I am proud that my child will be going to one of these 2 schools in September as they will then get the education and support that they need and not get lost in a 'large school' system. sh&dh

5:58pm Fri 6 Mar 09

Cliff says...

I think the borough council is far more likely to carry out a serious consultation than the County.

Remember all this when you vote in June. But you probably won't have the slate of independents guyfawkes keeps promising.
I think the borough council is far more likely to carry out a serious consultation than the County. Remember all this when you vote in June. But you probably won't have the slate of independents guyfawkes keeps promising. Cliff

7:08pm Fri 6 Mar 09

guyfawkes999 says...

The Tories, Labour and the LibDems are all in it together.

All three parties behind the scenes are supporting these school closures.

Labour are wetting themselves that they will lose a council seat in the June elections.

Should be fun watching the Lib-Lab-Con parties rip each other apart during April and May as they become more desperate in the weeks leading up to the election.

In a measure of how desperate Communist Labour are - they are now resorting to the tactics of the African dictator Mugabe to bail out the economy by printing more money.

The one sure thing you can count on Communist Labour is that they always leave a big mess after being in office for a few years.
The Tories, Labour and the LibDems are all in it together. All three parties behind the scenes are supporting these school closures. Labour are wetting themselves that they will lose a council seat in the June elections. Should be fun watching the Lib-Lab-Con parties rip each other apart during April and May as they become more desperate in the weeks leading up to the election. In a measure of how desperate Communist Labour are - they are now resorting to the tactics of the African dictator Mugabe to bail out the economy by printing more money. The one sure thing you can count on Communist Labour is that they always leave a big mess after being in office for a few years. guyfawkes999

7:58pm Fri 6 Mar 09

Goonerboy says...

This has been a done deal since the outset. The only hope is that the Govt runs out of money or there is an election.
This scheme is mad and the lack of publicity and outcry is a scandel. They say they cannot run a school with £750k less funding but the bill for transport alone of bussing children across the town will be in excess of £500k per annum .
The scheme will start the year after next but building for the extra capacity will take 5 years . Children will be taught in prefabs . Only when it starts will parents suddenly realise what this absurd plan means.
This has been a done deal since the outset. The only hope is that the Govt runs out of money or there is an election. This scheme is mad and the lack of publicity and outcry is a scandel. They say they cannot run a school with £750k less funding but the bill for transport alone of bussing children across the town will be in excess of £500k per annum . The scheme will start the year after next but building for the extra capacity will take 5 years . Children will be taught in prefabs . Only when it starts will parents suddenly realise what this absurd plan means. Goonerboy

1:05am Sat 7 Mar 09

Boris says...

All "consultations" are a sham, whether carried out by the county or the borough. This is proved by the failure of CBC to provide an adequate bus station despite over 18,000 local people having signed a petition for it.
Sh&dh is right, smaller schools are better. Large schools such as Philip Morant are mediocre.
All "consultations" are a sham, whether carried out by the county or the borough. This is proved by the failure of CBC to provide an adequate bus station despite over 18,000 local people having signed a petition for it. Sh&dh is right, smaller schools are better. Large schools such as Philip Morant are mediocre. Boris

3:17pm Sat 7 Mar 09

Cliff says...

Only 18,000 out of 175,000 is a pretty low percentage vote and the number who use the bus station is even less at a maximum of 4,000 daily. Nevertheless facilities should be provided for the very small minority who need to change buses.
Only 18,000 out of 175,000 is a pretty low percentage vote and the number who use the bus station is even less at a maximum of 4,000 daily. Nevertheless facilities should be provided for the very small minority who need to change buses. Cliff

3:18pm Sat 7 Mar 09

Heinz says...

Boris wrote:
All "consultations" are a sham, whether carried out by the county or the borough. This is proved by the failure of CBC to provide an adequate bus station despite over 18,000 local people having signed a petition for it.
Sh&dh is right, smaller schools are better. Large schools such as Philip Morant are mediocre.
Thinks yourselves lucky - you've almost got a lovely (and VERY EXPENSIVE) art galley that nobody will visit.

Why do you need a bus station too?
[quote][p][bold]Boris[/bold] wrote: All "consultations" are a sham, whether carried out by the county or the borough. This is proved by the failure of CBC to provide an adequate bus station despite over 18,000 local people having signed a petition for it. Sh&dh is right, smaller schools are better. Large schools such as Philip Morant are mediocre. [/p][/quote]Thinks yourselves lucky - you've almost got a lovely (and VERY EXPENSIVE) art galley that nobody will visit. Why do you need a bus station too? Heinz

3:52pm Sat 7 Mar 09

Heinz says...

Good point about the noble Lord looking bored though. It'll come as no surprise to larn that he's the one with his arms firmly folded in a 'closed mind' manner in the above photo.
Good point about the noble Lord looking bored though. It'll come as no surprise to larn that he's the one with his arms firmly folded in a 'closed mind' manner in the above photo. Heinz

12:27am Sun 8 Mar 09

Boris says...

Wake up, Cliff, it wasn't 18000 votes but 18000 signatures. Several polls were taken and consistently showed about 94% in favour of the bus station.
It was far and away the biggest local petition in living memory (the one for the Cuckoo Farm stadium being largely signed by visitors from elsewhere).
The true daily figure for bus station users is in fact 6000, but even your low estimate of 4000 is an order of magnitude greater than the VAF is ever likely to achieve.
Please don't use the "silent majority" argument, it lowers you to Lord Hanningfield's level.
Wake up, Cliff, it wasn't 18000 votes but 18000 signatures. Several polls were taken and consistently showed about 94% in favour of the bus station. It was far and away the biggest local petition in living memory (the one for the Cuckoo Farm stadium being largely signed by visitors from elsewhere). The true daily figure for bus station users is in fact 6000, but even your low estimate of 4000 is an order of magnitude greater than the VAF is ever likely to achieve. Please don't use the "silent majority" argument, it lowers you to Lord Hanningfield's level. Boris

6:42pm Sun 8 Mar 09

duchess2 says...

what concerns me is the large 'pupil referral unit' aka 'vocational college' planned for monkwick for pupils from colchester and beyond, that seems to have been lost in the argument and my concerns are about adequate funding and quality teaching opposed to a 'dumping ground' at the expense of the pupils being referred and the community 'hosting' the 'facility'
what concerns me is the large 'pupil referral unit' aka 'vocational college' planned for monkwick for pupils from colchester and beyond, that seems to have been lost in the argument and my concerns are about adequate funding and quality teaching opposed to a 'dumping ground' at the expense of the pupils being referred and the community 'hosting' the 'facility' duchess2

12:28am Mon 9 Mar 09

Cliff says...

As far as the bus station is concerned Boris people talk with their feet - they can choose to use buses or the bus station and the number of people who care can actually be measured - education is a different ball game altogether. You know this.
As far as the bus station is concerned Boris people talk with their feet - they can choose to use buses or the bus station and the number of people who care can actually be measured - education is a different ball game altogether. You know this. Cliff

2:40am Tue 10 Mar 09

Boris says...

Well it seems only 100 people were at that schools meeting, so does that mean they count for nothing?
Of course not, there were many meetings, some of them (which I attended) with several hundred people).
Only the tip of an iceberg is visible, but you know it is a huge structure below the waterline.
Those who have ignored public opinion (on schools, buses, black bags, or anything else) may suffer when they come up for re-election.
Well it seems only 100 people were at that schools meeting, so does that mean they count for nothing? Of course not, there were many meetings, some of them (which I attended) with several hundred people). Only the tip of an iceberg is visible, but you know it is a huge structure below the waterline. Those who have ignored public opinion (on schools, buses, black bags, or anything else) may suffer when they come up for re-election. Boris

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