Letter to Editor: Cuts have consequences in education Mr Halfon

Politics / Thu 21st Sep 2023 at 07:10am

Dear Editor,

CUTS have consequences.Here’s a definition of shameless. Somebody posing for a picture looking at a roof support system, installed some years ago, to stop crumbling school roofs from collapsing. That person praising the support method for allowing the school to be open, but that person omitting to mention that the political party he belongs to scrapped that programme of installing this support.

That person is Mr Robert Halfon. Readers of Your Harlow will have seen a photo of him posing at a Harlow primary, looking towards the ceiling. The RAAC there was supported by a beam system called Metsec. This system was a money saving measure that was cheaper than replacing the roof. Crucially it made RAAC safe, allowing the pupils of that school to return this September with minimal disruption.

Other schools in Harlow and Essex were not so lucky, their roofs had not been supported with Metsec, their roofs were dangerous. So why hadn’t they had Metsec installed? Answer, because Mr Halfon’s Conservative pals in Essex County Council had scrapped the program to save money. A false economy that will cost more in the long run, and which led to disruption in schools as the DfE panicked to make schools safe.

Of course we’ve seen Mr Halfon wring his hands and say how awful the chaos at the start of the term has been. What we haven’t seen is Mr Halfon being open and honest about the mistakes the Conservatives made that led to this chaos. And we haven’t seen Mr Halfon apologise for his part in the decision making process that led to this chaos, after all he claims to work closely with Essex County Council. 

Denying a problem exists, finger pointing at others to shift responsibility and, when all else fails, promising an enquiry to kick the issue down the road have become the stock response of the modern Conservative party. Mr Halfon enthusiastically adopts these methods, Harlow deserves better.

Yours sincerely

Mark Ingall

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4 Comments for Letter to Editor: Cuts have consequences in education Mr Halfon:

David Forman
2023-09-21 07:56:36

Good letter from Mark Ingall that highlights Essex County Council's penny pinching. What Mark failed to mention is that councils across Britain are skint because Conservative governments have slashed government grants to councils since 2010. The Institute for Government said this July: "These grants were cut by 40% in real terms between 2009/10 and 2019/20, from £46.5bn to £28.0bn (2023/24 prices). This downward trend was reversed in 2020/21 and 2021/22 as central government made more grant funding available to local government in response to the pressures of the pandemic. Though even including Covid grants, the fall in income was still 21% in real terms between 2009/10 and 2021/22; without, the fall was 31%." See Institute for Government report at https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainer/local-government-funding-england

David Forman
2023-09-21 08:10:44

Sorry, I forgot to explain that the Institute for Government said: "The fall in (council) spending power is largely because of reductions in central government grants."

gary roberts
2023-09-21 08:40:34

Mr. Gove has made much of the problems in Birmingham council with a focus on the Labour party local authority leadership. I suppose that is the political games usually adopted when a general election is due. The problem is many councils are verging on delivering the same problems. Will Harlow or Essex councils become part of that problem? I don't know but if people accept the concept that Labour councils' are the problem they will lose that general election. And this country will have another five years of this disgusting government sadly. Will you fall for this deception? I suspect so!

2023-09-21 10:24:02

Woking council annd Thurrock council are in a similar position to Birmingham but Gove has not mentioned them. Is this because they built up the debts under a Tory council?

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