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Friday, 26 October 2007

Tom Levitt Interviewed

High Peak Radio's web siteTom Levitt MP was interviewed on High Peak Radio this morning. The first part of the interview related to Tom Levitt being in the top ten of MPs claiming expenses in 2006-07. The second part related to the Save Combs School campaign. This is a very quick summary of that portion of the interview. While it isn't a verbatim transcript, it is hopefully accurate*.

High Peak Radio: Are you pleased by the decision to keep the school open?

Tom Levitt: Very pleased. I've always said that it would be the strength of the arguments that would decide the matter, and that's what's happened. A logical, sensible answer has been reached.

HPR: You've come in for a little criticism for not backing the campaign.

TL: It would have been very easy to jump in and believe what was being said by one side rather than the other, but I felt there were arguments on both sides. I met with the parents and governors, wrote to DCC, and asked a Parliamentary Question**. That got important information into the public domain. The answer to my PQ, which restated that there needed to be very strong grounds for closing excellent rural schools, is the very point on which DCC's decision is based. Doing what I did was the most supportive thing that could be legally done.

HPR: How do you respond to criticism that you've tried to claim credit for the campaign's success, unlike parish and borough councillors, who actually backed the campaign?

TL: It would have been very easy to jump in and get headlines about 'MP leads campaign', but as I've said, I thought there were arguments on both sides. If I had done that, perhaps the campaigners would complain now that I had claimed the campaign as my own. I played a large part in getting important information into the public domain which the campaign has been able to use***.

HPR: One questioner on the Save Combs School web site asks "How does Tom propose to halt or reduce the continuous and insidious rural community disengagement by DCC?"

TL: You have to remember that DCC has kept more small rural schools open than any other council. Cheshire, for example, tackled the problem of surplus school places some years ago and closed quite a few small schools. DCC still has to look at the problem of surplus places, though, and find a solution. That's what I meant earlier about there being arguments on both sides. DCC is doing a lot for rural communities. Look at the support for rural bus services, the commission set up to advise on protecting rural life, and the support given to ensure that postal services are still accessible even when a rural post office has to close because it isn't viable. There's a lot being done to support rural communities, and while I understand people's fears about those communities becoming dormitories, sometimes there are market pressures which can't be resisted.

*If anyone who listened to the interview thinks something's inaccurate or missing from this summary, please e-mail the webmaster.

** The exchange of letters between Tom Levitt and Alan Charles is in this post.

*** We previously described the request made to Tom Levitt to correct the factually incorrect information he disseminated. No response has been received to that request.

Use this link to find all posts that mention Tom Levitt.

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