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Sunday, 16 September 2007

MP Leaves Questions Unanswered

Referring to Tom Levitt's letter where he depicted himself as a 'critical friend' to both sides (campaigners and DCC), a Combs resident wrote to him in early August, as follows.

I now understand that you won't be trying to apply any influence on behalf of those of your constituents who are involved in the campaign to save the school.

For you to be the 'critical friend to both sides' that you wish to be, I think you could do more to ensure that accurate information is in the public domain. You repeated the figures that DCC started the closure proposal with, on your web site and in correspondence with people in the area. I'd like to see you correcting that information where it has now been proved to be false - for example, the calculation of per-pupil cost.

I'd also like to know, as I asked in my last message, what you have done to explain the funding arrangement for schools to those people who have complained about 'subsidising' Combs school. As you surely know, that is a view based on a misunderstanding of how the funding is organised.

You would do much to encourage balance if you would make a public correction of some of the key data used by DCC and repeated by you. Will you do that?
Tom Levitt's reply, a month later, left these questions unanswered.
I take exception to your suggestion that I "won't be trying to apply any influence" on behalf of the school in the current process which is being undertaken by Derbyshire County Council.

As I have explained before, I have no influence by virtue of my office and no statutory role in the procedure at all. However, I do believe that by using my status and experience I have succeeded in getting a lot of information into the public domain which is proving valuable to the campaign.

The principle upon which consultations work is that it is the strength of the argument which wins or loses the day rather than undue "influence"


HB said...

As we are currently in limbo, awaiting the DCC Cabinet decision, it is important to get a few facts clear:

(1) DCC continues to publicise incorrect figures, and these are being propagated by others (including The cost of educating pupils has been confused with budgetary figures and the true position has not been made clear. How can DCC reach a decision until this is clarified ?

(2) There is no clear correlation between cost of education and educational standards in the public educational sector. In the recent Ofsted report, Combs Infant school was rated "outstanding value for money".

How can DCC continue with the proposal to close a school on financial grounds, when the government's own inspectors rated it "outstanding value for money" ? This whole issue for Combs School and the others under the closure proposals has arisen directly as a result of the long-term strategy failings of DCC, an area of weakness identified in their own Ofsted report, which stated "Lack of clarity in the procedures for measuring cost-effectiveness in major plans and policies"

This message has also been posted on Tom Levitt's web site.

KJA said...

It’s perfectly reasonable for anyone to expect some things from their elected representative, such as an opinion one way or another. He does seem at best perhaps a little na├»ve as a politician. The voting record makes interesting reading too – passing bandwagon anyone? Worthy of note is his top 15% position in claiming expenses and his bottom 5% in majority! Good to see though that his orations have stirred up a whopping 1 comment which perhaps shows a degree of blandness?

There is a huge swell of opinion against the proposed closure and not just locally. To contemplate closing a school in the top 10 nationally makes a mockery of any party’s stated strong support of education, education, education. I agree with the above article wholeheartedly – if a politician demonstrably doesn’t understand the rather obvious benefits of economies of scale, and that it’s how resources are used not how much money is spent, perhaps we shouldn’t expect pearls of wisdom either for or against an issue?

Thankfully the campaign has and continues to have many many supporters who are willing and able to put a reasoned and rational case against this poorly judged closure proposal and aren’t seeking public recognition by association.