Friday, July 19, 2024

Chafford School places: “Could cllr and chair of governors Tunde done more?” probes Labour

ANGRY parents once again lobbied a meeting of Thurrock Council over their complaints about a lack of school places for their children – then heard leading councillors clash in the chamber over the issue.

The furore surrounding 23 children from Chafford Hundred who have not been able to attend local schools has become a running sore for the authority – whose members were greeting by banner-waving parents and children when they held thair monthly meeting at the Civic offices.

Leading the parents’ cause from the opposition benches is Conservative Chafford ward councillor Tunde Ojetola – and he and Labour’s education portfolio holder Oliver Gerrish became involved in a heated exchange when the meeting considered the issue.

The Council accepted a petition from the campaigning residents, put to the councillor by disgruntled mum Lea Agambar who called for positive action to enable the displaced children to attend local schools when the new academic year starts in September. The petition contained more than 1,000 signatures asking for addional places at Warren Primary School.

The real fireworks came when Cllr Ojetola then quizzed Cllr Gerrish, asking: “What is the portfolio holder doing to support the 23 residents of Chafford Hundred who have been unable to obtain a place in a local school?”

Cllr Gerrish responded by saying: “This is something we have worked on considerably hard in reality. Everyone has been offered a place that is deemed reasonable.”

He then turned the spotlight back on Cllr Ojetola, who is chair of governors at a Chafford School, asking why the schools themselves were not willing to take additional pupils.

“All these schools have been asked if they would like to take two additional pupils but they have all declined. Cllr Ojetola, you are a chair of governors at one of those schools, why do you therefore criticise the Council when you won’t accept pupils?”

However, Cllr Ojetola would not accept that criticism and turned the fire back on Cllr Gerrish, saying it was up to him to take a lead.

“To me it’s a series of errors, it’s omni-errors or should I say Admissionsgate.

“Parents are not being given school places within walking distance of their homes, some families now have children in two different schools and Cllr Gerrish is blaming headteachers and other employees instead of making a decision.

“We are also suffering a lack of information from officers I asked for the feasibility study of Warren Primary School for over three weeks and only got it yesterday (Tuesday) after an email to the Director.

“The Council has been guilty of losing parents’ details and mixing up appeal hearings, etc.
This is all leading to an increase in parents’ stress level!”

“No wonder up to 50% of parents are choosing to school their children out of the borough!

“The situation is crying out for leadership and decisions: therefore I’m back to my original question: what decision have you made as portfolio holder to assist the parents school their children locally?

“The feasibility study published in 2011 shows a short fall of 210 places. What decisions has the portfolio holder made to provide for this short fall?”

In turn Cllr Gerrish batted the ball back to Cllr Ojetola, repeating his adding: “He wants me to overturn the decisions of leading professionals, while not taking a decision himself.

“We have to work together. I am not going to put us in a position where there is damage to our relationship with schools.”

He also offered a glimpse of hope for a resolution by September, but added: “I am not yet ruling out a solution but I do not wish to offer false hope.”

5 COMMENTS

  1. Everyone has known for years that there is a shortfall, they built, built and then built some more homes. They even allowed for homes to be built behind bannatynes even though everyone told them that there is no more space in the schools (what a mess this is). There is a need for money above common sense!

    However, they have never really allowed for enough spaces in the schools. The TC was meant to buy out the container park to build a new primary to then allow for the then Campus to extend and grow into the primary school. All of the primary schools have extended added further classrooms and added even further student’s year on year, there is no more space now. If a report was written in 2011 that there would be a shortfall of 210 spaces then what have TC done about it. That’s a BIG nothing again.

    I don’t care which party sorts it out, or even if you work together, just do IT!

  2. We all know the reasons why and yet successive governments still let hundreds of thousands more people come here every year. Once they’re here they immediately have children knowing full well they will never be asked to leave no matter what their status when they arrived..

  3. When the Ockendon Masterplan was put on display a few years back outlining up to 600 new homes in the area, I had the opportunity to ask the representatives present what provision they had made for extra school places in Ockendon. They said that they had consulted the Council and there was adequate provision for new pupils. It wasn’t true then, it isn’t true now. There are dozens of new homes nearing completion in Ockendon right now, I hope the people that move in don’t have children needing to go to school.

  4. Chafford Hundred is a white elephant and always will be, houses before infrastructure is TBC’s mantra as this brings in the most cash, until such time that we get a planning department that actually takes the time to lokk at the whole picture rather than the pound signs then nothing will ever change.

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