Wycombe Labour today welcomed Steve Baker�s support, as reported in the national press, for Labour�s demand that Government hand back powers to local councils so they can expand schools or open new ones.
Councillor Rafiq Raja, Leader of the Labour Group on Wycombe District Council and a long- standing school governor, said,
�I am delighted that Steve Baker now appreciates the fact that there are shortages of school places in Wycombe and that it will get worse as long as the Government insists that any new school has to be a free school and allows schools to decide on the number of places they offer.
Steve Baker hasn�t exactly over-exerted himself in fighting to get school places locally for all our children. However, we understand he is busy with his campaign to get us out of the EU and any effort is better than none. At least he joined with a fellow Tory MP to register his concern by putting down a question in Parliament. It�s just a pity he didn�t bother to ask a supplementary to what was a very unsatisfactory answer from the Minister.
Wycombe Labour has been concerned about the shortage of school places in Wycombe for a long time.
Back in March 2015, we demanded an explanation from Bucks County Council as 1 in 4 children in Bucks failed to get into their first choice secondary school. We pointed out that the Tory �led Government had stripped local authorities of the power to require academies to provide places where and when they are needed. It had also stripped local authorities of the power to set up new schools; any new school had to be a �free school� i.e. sponsored by the private sector. However, the Government had left local authorities with the responsibility of providing places for children in the locality. We said
this was madness.
We pointed out that the Tory �led Government had also stripped local authorities of the resources needed to expand places and at the same time it had provided 30,000 places in free schools, many where there was no demand. We said this was madness.
BCC did not respond.
In August, we pointed out to Wycombe District Council that 5 year old children were required to go to school miles across Wycombe, 2 bus rides away. I described the devastating impact of this on the children and their families. We asked WDC if it was going to fight to get local school places for our children.
WDC did not answer the question.
Now we see the chickens coming home to roost and the Tories realising what is happening.
Now at last we know, courtesy of another local Tory MP, that BCC acknowledges it cannot �provide the key infrastructure that is required for new schools and additional places�.
It�s good to know we have an MP who is starting to get the message. It�s about time.
It would be even better if he could persuade the Government to change its policies.
Steve Baker�s question is at
Article about Tories calling for change in Gove�s education policies is at