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May 27th Bedfordshire Demo Over School Closures

Friday, May 16, 2014

GMB Call For Further Lobby Of Council Meeting In Chicksands On 27th May Over Proposed Closure Of 3 Dunstable Schools

Birth rates data shows the demand for places is expected rise by 21% between 2012 and 2017 which undermines the council’s argument that their assumed drop in pupil intake in coming years is credible says GMB.

GMB, the union for school support staff, has called for a lobby of the Central Beds Council Executive on 27th May at Priory House, Chicksands from 9am (meeting starts at 9.30am) over proposals to close three local schools.

On 24th February Central Bedfordshire Council launched seperate formal consultation on the proposed closure of Brewers Hill Middle School, Aldbanks, Dunstable, the proposed closure of Ashton Church of England, Voluntary Aided Middle School, High Street North, Dunstable, and the proposed closure of Streetfield Middle School, Dunstable Road, Caddington.

On 7th May GMB organized a well attended lobby of parents, teachers, staff and the general public of a Central Bedfordshire Council meeting to decide on the closure of these schools. See notes to editors for copy of GMB press release.

GMB has now arranged to visit all three schools on Monday 19th to speak to all parents on the gate in the morning and afternoon to mobilise support for the campaign and to boost support for the lobby on May 27th. Alex Mayer, Labour Party candidate in the European Parliament election will leaflet parents and gather names to attend the executive on 27th.

Steve Sweeney, GMB Regional Officer, said “The meeting at the Grove Theatre was attended by lots of very angry staff, parents, children and general public. There were seven speakers against the proposed closures. One of these was Dan Scott the Labour Party new Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for SW Beds constituency. He received the loudest applause when finished speaking and said Dunstable should be a "No Gove area".

We have a number of items we will be raising with the council as to why we feel the proposed closures are an absolute farce.

Some familiar Tory councillors have begun to be quite vocal in favour of closing these schools. However, they obviously underestimated the strength of feeling amongst the community. Their cavalier attitude seems to be backfiring on them as the staff, parents and head teachers are all passionate about keeping these schools open.

GMB has information on the birth rates (produced by the council and CCG in 2012) which clearly show the demand for places is expected rise by 21% between 2012 and 2017.

This in itself appears to undermine the credibility of the council’s argument that their "assumed" drop in pupil intake in coming years is in any way credible as this appears to be the sole reason given that they want to shut the schools by suggesting they will become "financially unviable".

During the scrutiny meeting last week the committee appeared to be nervous and unsettled as the anger from parents was clearly unexpected. This suggests to me that they haven't really understood or accepted their responsibility to serve the best interests of the electorate at all.

The local Tory MP, Andrew Selous, wasn't there and this was noticed by everyone. GMB has been asking him if he's going to support the campaign to oppose the proposed closures but he's been ignoring our questions. However there is nowhere to hide.”

End

Contact: Warren Kenny, GMB Senior Organiser on 07843 632394 or GMB Beds Branch on 01234 276311 or Steve Sweeney GMB Organiser on 07703 469403 or GMB Press Office on 07974 251823 or 07921 289880

Notes to editors

GMB press release of 24th April

GMB CALL FOR LOBBY OF COUNCIL MEETING ON 7TH MAY OVER PROPOSED CLOSURE OF 3 DUNSTABLE SCHOOLS

Local postal referendums of all parents/stakeholders should be held on these closure decisions as the meetings so far would suggest strong support to keep schools open says GMB

GMB, the union for school support staff, is calling on parents, teachers, staff and the general public to lobby a Central Bedfordshire Council meeting to decide on the closure of three Dunstable Schools on the 7th of May at the Grove Theatre at 7:00pm.

This is part of a broad based campaign to oppose the proposed closure of three schools by Central Bedfordshire Council.

On 24th February Central Bedfordshire Council launched seperate formal consultation on the proposed closure of Brewers Hill Middle School, Aldbanks, Dunstable, the proposed closure of Ashton Church of England, Voluntary Aided Middle School, High Street North, Dunstable, and the proposed closure of Streetfield Middle School, Dunstable Road, Caddington.

The Council told parents in a formal consultation documents that Central Bedfordshire Council is proposing to close the three schools because the current and projected pupil numbers make the schools unviable.

GMB officials attended all 3 parent evenings on 3rd, 4th and 5th March where the Central Bedfordshire Council officers presented the councils case for closure.

Warren Kenny GMB Regional Officer said “Central Bedfordshire is holding its decision meeting on the closure of three Dunstable Schools on the 7th of May.

This is a key opportunity to show the Tories how we feel about the educational chaos they are inflicting on the town. It is important that we have a strong presence to show them how we feel.

The consultation only started on Feb 24th so there are a lot of unanswered questions and the decision to close these schools should not be rushed.

The council claim there are falling pupil numbers this year and they have "assumed" further reductions next year and every year thereafter making these three schools financially unviable.

This problem seems to have been generated by the council's decision to convert the schools structure from three tier to two tier (Lower, Middle and Upper to Primary and Secondary).

In reality, this council has been trying to scrap the 3 tier system for years and this has always been fiercely opposed. I cannot understand how or when the local parents would suddenly agree to close their local school.

GMB will be pushing for local postal referendums of all parents/stakeholders on these decisions. The meetings GMB has attended so far would suggest strong support to keep them open.

GMB will seek to secure a local referendum requirement that this land is preserved for educational purposes only.

GMB is seeking information on pupil admissions for all Dunstable schools to see how these reflect and if any are over their capacity and if so why.

GMB is asking what other planning developments do the council have in hand and if they have some will this increase pupil demand. If not, why don't the council build more housing.

GMB also plan to find out whether there are any plans/discussions to sell the land if the schools shut.”

End

 

 

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