Wednesday, 7 July 2010

The Reading ConDems, can you trust them?

Have just seen this from my friend Councillor John Ennis. John is highlighting the double dealing nature of the current ConDem administration in Reading.

I copy it here for you.

Headline: All Saints School, Alok Sharma and Councillor Ralph need to answer questions

Before the General Election, Alok Sharma, MP Reading West and Councillor Mark Ralph visited All Saints School and committed to supporting the parents, teachers and governors in expanding the school. They lobbied our administration for the expansion. We had already agreed to hold off putting August House in order to investigate further expansion of All Saints. However, less than six weeks later the ConDem coalition is going to sell August House against the commitments of Cllr Mark Ralph in an outrageous bout of hypocrisy. ALok is saying nothing as he has already achieved his aims of getting elected as MP for Reading West, therefore he doesn't need the parents and children of All Saints anymore. Maybe he will comment in four years time, closer to his re-election.

Below is a press release from the Reading and District Labour Party outlining the hypocritical comments made on Mr Sharma's website and the platitudes of Councillor Mark Ralph.


Labour: “Tory hypocrisy will break All Saints hearts”

Tory Lead Councillor for Education Mark Ralph plans to ignore the pleas from Governors and parents at All Saints Infants School by pushing ahead with the sale of August House at Cabinet on 12 July. All Saints and their local community are only asking for six months to see if they can find funds for their one and only opportunity to expand the school to a full Primary and end local families’ junior school placement misery. Cllr Ralph and his ConDem colleagues on Reading Borough Council seem to be simply turning a blind eye to their plight.

But, says Labour’s education lead, Cllr. Jon Hartley, Mark Ralph and his Tory colleagues, are also ignoring the promises that they made before the election; when Alok Sharma MP pledged his support for parent's plans for All Saints.

Jon says: “The Tories were clear in their support for All Saints School before the elections. Now, despite proclaiming that they are working in a ‘new politics’ they are already engaged in the worst kind of political bad faith, promising one thing to local people and then doing the opposite.”

Amazingly, the clear evidence of the Tories’ hypocrisy is still available on the Conservative’s own campaigning website,

On 15 February, Alok Sharma, who as a Parliamentary Candidate claimed to be working with the school’s parents and governors, said: “I fully support this excellent initiative from the parents and governors at All Saints. They are all extremely motivated to expand the school and I very much hope that Reading Borough Council will listen to their proposals with an open mind. The pressure on school places in Reading Borough is not going to go away and creating another 60 places at All Saints will undoubtedly help. The Council needs to demonstrate some imagination and long-term thinking when they review the plan from All Saints. The success of any school is determined by its leadership team, the motivation of the governing body and the positive involvement of parents and in the case of All Saints, everyone is fully behind this initiative.”

And Cllr. Mark Ralph himself, then Tory education spokesman, added: “The plan to expand the school has clear merits and I will be pressing the council to give the parents and governors a fair hearing when they are ready to present their proposals.”

A month later, on 16 March, Alok Sharma again publicly supported the school’s expansion plans, saying: “Parents are understandably frustrated and concerned that many of their children have not be allocated places at any of their preferred schools. If All Saints receives support from Reading Borough Council and is allowed to expand, not only will overall pressure on school places be eased but parents at All Saints will not face the same uncertainty about school places in future years. This is a win-win situation, it just needs the Council to think and act with some imagination and support a really motivated set of parents and governors.”

Jon Hartley comments:

“Just a few months ago, Alok Sharma and Mark Ralph were happy to say they supported All Saints School and even called on the Labour administration to do more. Now the Reading West MP is silent whilst Cllr Ralph seems prepared to push through a complete U-turn, ending all hope of expanding a popular local school.

The challenge to them and their Tory colleagues is to do the right thing and live up to the promises that they made in the run up to the elections. Just do what Labour was doing, give All Saints parents the support, imagination and most importantly the fair-hearing that is still promised on their own MP’s website. If they persist in their current plans, the Tories’ hypocrisy will break the hearts of parents at All Saints and families across Reading will know that they cannot trust this new council coalition’s promises.”