Ilford Recorder Column 24 March 2011

Redbridge has excellent schools. Many parents move here because of the quality of our local authority funded and run primary and comprehensive schools.  The only major problem we face is that there are not enough school places due in part to this popularity and to a rising birth rate. Many children in Ilford South have to travel to schools in the North and West of the borough.  I was delighted when  Labour supported Redbridge Council’s new Winston Way and Cranbrook primary schools, and through its Building Schools for the Future programme funded the complete  rebuilding and expansion of Loxford School.  But since the change to a Conservative led government  we have had the controversial fiasco of the scrapping of BSF, and espousal of an anti- local authority attitude.  Late last year Education Secretary Michael Gove told me he had given the go ahead for an organisation called E Act to set up a new privately run but publicly funded so called “Free school” in Redbridge.  He did not say where this school would be. I assumed  E Act would buy or lease a private building.  But last week local elderly and disabled groups were abruptly told that they are to be thrown out of the Downshall Community Centre to make way for its rapid re-conversion into a primary school.  On Tuesday Redbridge Cabinet  considered a report recommending the sale or long lease of the Centre  with a decision straight away.  This  permits no public or community group consultation and no chance for  requisition to the full Council.  Why is this being done ?  Why is there such a rush?  Last Friday I tabled a series of detailed written Parliamentary questions to Michael Gove seeking clarification about what has been going on, the role of the Department for Education and its Partnership for Schools quango and why normal procedures have been ignored. Watch this space.

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