Sunday, 27 September 2009

Statement Regarding St. John's C.E. Infants School

Medway Council's policy framework requires the Council's Cabinet "to shape the future of Medway schools in line with school organisation principles".

Rose Collinson, the Council's education director, assured the Cabinet on 17 September, that one of those school organisation principles was that:

"The number of transition points will be reduced wherever possible within the phases of primary and secondary education. In the primary phase this means creating schools for pupils aged 3-11 and removing transitions for pupils midway through the foundation stage and between separate provisions for Key Stages 1 and 2".

She then used that principle as a basis for advising Cabinet that St. Peter's and St. John's schools should close as they are small infant schools that cannot provide education from 3-11 (ignoring the rather more important points that they achieve significantly better than average results and only had a surplus places issue in respect of a single year's intake).

On Thursday at an Overview and Scrutiny meeting my sustained questioning led Rose Collinson to admit that she had misled Cabinet with that statement. What she claimed was a school organisation principle was not.

The relevant school organisation principle supports only amalgamation of infant and junior schools, not closure of infant schools, or closure of schools that cannot offer nursery education.

Rather than using the school organisation principles to make recommendations to Cabinet on closures, as required by the policy framework, officers relied on something from a different document and told Cabinet that it was one of the school organisation principles when this was not true.

I asked the Council's head legal officer to flag the problem to Cabinet before they decided on closures. She refused to do so.

Overview and Scrutiny have therefore sent the closure of St. John's back to Cabinet to reconsider as the decision was not taken, as required, on the basis of the school organisation principles.


Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Mark Reckless On YouTube

Mark Reckless is pleased to announce the launch of his official YouTube channel where you can view a variety of exclusive videos aimed at giving the public an insight into why Mark Reckless is the only choice for Rochester and Strood at the next general election.

Since going live just four days ago, the channel has proved to be an instant hit with over 3,500 viewers watching highlights from the speech given by Daniel Hannan MEP to supporters and activists here in Rochester and Strood*. You can visit Mark's YouTube channel by clicking here, and please do leave a comment to let us know what you think.

One of the best things about this new addition to Mark's online presence is that it hasn't cost the taxpayer a single penny! Unlike the current Labour MPs here in Medway who managed to spend over £30,000 of taxpayers' money between them in the 2007/08 period alone, Mark Reckless doesn't have a publicly funded 'communications allowance' to tell you about the hard work he is doing for constituents here in Rochester and Strood.

Instead, we rely solely on fundraising activities by local supporters and activists, and donations from the public who want to see change.

If you would like to see change here in Rochester and Strood, and in the country as a whole then please help us fight the publicly funded Labour spin machine by making a small donation. Or why not join the Conservative party and be a part of the change Britain desperately needs. Can you afford another five years of Labour?

*Mark Reckless and Rochester and Strood Conservatives would like to thank David Miller for capturing this event on camera

Thursday, 17 September 2009

We Win! St. Peter's School To Stay Open!

Councillor Mark Reckless has congratulated both Medway Council's Cabinet and the Save St. Peter's campaign after it was decided there was no case for continuing with the planned closure of St. Peter's school.

Both Mark Reckless and Councillor Ted Baker, Mark's colleague in Rochester West ward and former Chair of Governors at the school, have staunchly supported the school during the consultation process.

Mark said:

"Despite accusations of pre-determination over the closure from members of the Labour group, the decision by the Cabinet to keep St. Peter's open is not just a victory for the excellent parent-led campaign, the members of which I congratulate fully. It is a victory for the democratic process and common sense.

"We urged the Cabinet to look at the facts, that the school should remain open and they have listened.

"St. Peter's future is now assured and I look forward to giving my continued support to the pupils, parents and teachers of St. Peter's for many years to come."


Monday, 14 September 2009

Save The Great British Pub

With roughly 7 pubs closing every day of the week, and our own local pubs under threat, we believe that the Government should be doing more to save the Great British pub.

33% of the price of every pint goes in "Beer Tax" to the Government. Labour plan to increase this further, hitting responsible drinkers once again in favour of irresponsible binge drinkers and yobs who cause misery on our high streets and in our community.

Cllr Mark Reckless, Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Rochester and Strood, and Daniel Hannan, MEP for the South East of England, have launched the local Save The Great British Pub campaign calling on the Government to Axe the Beer Tax which has seen the loss of well over 3,000 pubs and 24,000 jobs in the industry during the past year alone.

Residents across Rochester and Strood will be invited to visit their local pub to sign the petition calling on the Government to end the year-on-year tax rises on beer that has hit the industry so hard, and they can also sign online by clicking here.

Mark Reckless said: "All small businesses have suffered to one degree or another under Labour from regulation and being used as unpaid tax-collectors, but pubs have suffered terribly, many have had to close, and pubs particularly need a Conservative government to put things right."


Friday, 4 September 2009

Gurkha's By-election Triumph

Congratulations to Tashi Tamang Bhutia, a Gurkha, on his extraordinary victory in Medway's Luton and Wayfield by-election in Medway last night. He took 1042 votes to Labour's 1038 in a ward where Labour secured twice the vote we did as recently as 2007.

I first met Tashi eight years ago when canvassing in the Chatham part of what was then the Medway constituency. He immediately joined the party and has worked loyally for us ever since.

At the third time of trying he is now a councillor, knocking Labour out of one of their safest seats in Medway (and probably the whole of the South-East).

Tashi's victory is first and foremost testament to his decency, honesty and modesty.

Second, it reflects many core-Labour voters coming out for Tashi because of how they felt about Gordon Brown doing everything he could to deny Gurkhas fair treatment in the UK. Helpfully, the two Labour ward councillors who remained in post gave this as one of their reasons for resigning the Labour whip.

Third, the result is a huge personal defeat for Jonathan Shaw, the constituency's MP, who insisted on imposing a candidate against the better judgment of many in the local Labour party. Jonathan's face was redder than his rosette in his lonely vigil at the count, as well it might have been in light of the shocking comments made by his chosen candidate.

Finally, it seems that council taxpayers have voted for substantial savings in councillor allowances. Labour have now been reduced to such a rump, 10 out of 55 seats in the Medway Towns, a conurbation of a quarter of a milllion people, that their spokesmen may all lose their special responsibility allowances.

Many thanks to my council colleagues and activists from Rochester and Strood who gave six weeks of sustained campaign support. We hope that this will benefit Tracey Crouch in her fight against Jonathan, just as it helped Tashi to whom I owe so much.

We are delighted that Daniel Hannan MEP will be coming to Rochester and Strood on Saturday to lead our celebrations with Tashi.