Tory Harlow council leader asks Labour to “drop the politics”

News / Sat 2nd Sep 2023 at 06:40am

Dear Editor,

WHILE I appreciate that Harlow Labour must make themselves heard, I wish that for once, they would do the honourable thing and put aside party politics and instead, like Robert Halfon is doing, focus on supporting the affected Harlow schools, parents and children to put their safety and needs above his own interests.

As Mr Halfon outlined in his previous statement, the issue of RAAC has been around since 1994 – during the majority of the period when successive Labour Governments were in power, yet nothing was done. It is only this Government who have been closely monitoring the condition of school buildings, continually assessing new information and evidence about RAAC across the school estate to make sure the correct support is in place. Over 50 settings have already been supported to put mitigations in place and over £15 billion of funding has been provided since 2015 to support the school estate 

As Cllr Chris Vince ought to know, recent cases of RAAC identified in July has meant the Government has had to act swiftly to change the assessment of the risk that RAAC poses to building safety. Even before this, the DfE have been conducting surveys with schools and have taken further evidence from engineers on the challenges posed by RAAC. Unlike Harlow Labour who continue to play politics, this Government has acted swiftly, and with an abundance of caution to prioritise the safety of all pupils and staff in these affected buildings.  

Rather than point the finger and not help those people affected, perhaps he would do well to remember that Labour’s Government in Wales have taken no action whatsoever to support schools and buildings affected with RAAC in the region. If this is the direction of travel that a Labour Government would take, then I fear for the future of our public buildings. 

I know it is upsetting for parents and children, as well as the incredible teachers and support staff at the affected schools but it is right that the Government has acted swiftly and decisively to ensure that the safety of pupils and staff in these buildings remains the number one priority for the Department. Robert has already been speaking with parents, and most fair-minded people want politicians to put politics aside and come together. This is what Robert wants to do, it’s just sad to see that Labour’s Chris Vince will not. 

Like Mr Halfon, Harlow Council will continue to do everything possible to support schools to put in place mitigation plans and return children to face-to-face learning as soon as possible. I just wish Cllr Vince would choose to do the same. 

Yours faithfully,

Cllr Dan Swords, Leader of Harlow District Council

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12 Comments for Tory Harlow council leader asks Labour to “drop the politics”:

2023-09-02 07:05:37

What a pathetic letter from Mr Swords.The Conservatives will say anything to avoid responsibility for the chaos they have caused..

gary roberts
2023-09-02 07:13:57

You know when the Conservatives are spitting into the wind when you read such hypocrisy and nonsense. It is also when you notice the current Conservatives talk big but there is nothing left in their political tank except insults and "nothing to do with us gov'nor" rhetoric and "it was them over there." Indeed this article could have been written by Halfon it is so poor in facts and content. The question is, will the cost of these repairs or demolition of these schools be taken from already squeezed school budgets or met in full by this disgraceful government? Halfon should know he is apparently an education minister! Mind you the Labour party is so scared of making financial commitments you do wonder if they will do anything at all to improve the lives of school children.

2023-09-02 07:24:07

Dear Dan , as I have posted elsewhere if this was so tightly under control as you suggest, then, why are our embattled heads and teachers scrabbling around a week before the new term to find alternative solutions/ accommodation for the schools affected? Yes clearly a DofE issue, but under control and watch the current government and your party (—and Mr Halfons role in that government ) ! While I agree about Labour’s annoying but inevitable crowing about the utter shambles, you of all people know, if this was an announcement for a New School, Hospital, or even the Fabled mythical redevelopment of the former GSK site, Mr Halfon and yourself would be front and centre in this esteemed forum claiming full credit. Again, the hypocrisy is breathtaking!

John helmet
2023-09-02 07:54:54

And these lot will still get voted in again,the only thing that’s safe is ginger hair

Cllr James Griggs
2023-09-02 08:20:17

Dan Swords asks Labour to ‘drop the politics’, I had to check it wasn’t April 1st. What vacuous hypocrisy from the Halfon defending, Hi-Vis & Hard Hat wearing photo opportunist. His Tory chums were in Govt in 1994 and did nothing. He knows full well that it was the Labour Govt elected in 1997 who initiated a major schools rebuilding project that saw hundreds of old school buildings torn down and replaced by modern, sustainable, high quality and, very importantly, SAFE schools. Passmores in Harlow is a fine example. That program was cancelled by his mate Michael Gove when the Tory Govt was elected in 2010. That same Tory Govt was told in 2018 that RAAC was a major risk but they recklessly dithered and delayed taking any action. When they did finally make a move they did so, unsurprisingly, on the cheap which has led to the disastrous mess at SFG. The smoke and mirrors nonsense of Cllr Swords will fool no-one, he cannot defend the indefensible. He and his colleagues may well try and get the beleaguered Mr Halfon off the hook by saying wasn’t an Education Minister in 2018, this is true, but he was Chair of the Education Select Committee for years, the statutory duty of that Committee is to scrutinise the actions of the Dept for Education! Work it out Dan, your boss is either incompetent or trying to desperately hide the failures of his Govt and himself. Which is it? Maybe both.

2023-09-02 08:25:33

Ooooohhhhhh MR.Swords you start by saying you wish the Labour Party would drop the politics and get on with fixing things, then proceed to spout political crap, investigate further, while the Tories spouted their education claptrap, with their savage cuts it seems their school/education policies did not involve the any structural investigations ( of the school buildings ) whatsoever, therefore completely oblivious to the original buildings concrete mixture used to build the schools or many of them, was a cheaper mix of concrete ( that would normally have been used ) with a shelf life of approximately 30yrs ( shelf life just an example ) which the 30yrs has been exceeded and buildings are now deemed unsafe just like the Tory Government may their collapse be imminent.

Nicholas Taylor
2023-09-02 08:36:56

Yet another example of mud slinging between the two main Parties. I attended the event outside the Playhouse last night when the official unveiling of the Knife Angel took place. it was so good to see hundreds of people from all walks of life and political persuasion come together to condemn the use of knives. It is a shame that both local parties do not leave it to staff at schools affected to get on with sorting out how their pupils will be educated and at a Government level what can be learnt from this whole experience so that buildings built in the future meet stricter controls at all levels of the design and build process.

Tracy George
2023-09-02 08:37:08

Drop the politics he says, then uses the letter to have a go at Labour. Urm.....

James Leppard
2023-09-02 08:51:29

Nicholas Taylor I do share your sentiments regarding knife crime. I also agree with your conclusion regarding the schools whilst acknowledging that it was Chris Vince who commenced the mudslinging as shown in his various YH posts.

James Leppard
2023-09-02 08:55:51

Nicholas Taylor I do share your sentiments regarding knife crime. I also agree with your conclusion regarding the schools whilst acknowledging that it was Chris Vince who commenced the mudslinging as shown in his various YH posts. I suppose it is to be expected to heighten his profile in Harlow having been rejected as a parliamentary candidate by the Labour associations in Southend and Colchester. As leader of the Labour opposition in Harlow, one might ask as to why Harlow was only his third choice.

2023-09-02 09:12:20

James Leppard, there you go again… is there some Conservative communication policy that says you guys have to have the last comment on these fora? That along with the attack being the best form of defence.. Once again this government dropped the ball on the school buildings, and are accountable for the farce at the Sir Frederick Gibberd… acknowledge , accept and move on .

2023-09-02 09:22:46

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