School Places and Broken Promises

blackboard08:13 Tuesday 10th May 2011
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: 14% of parents didn’t get their first choice primary school for their child in Peterborough. 95% of Peterborough schoolchildren will be going though to one of their 3 preferred primary schools, from September 2011. Earlier we spoke to Cabinet Member for Education Councillor John Holdich. He admitted to us there was a shortage of school places in Peterborough. Well the new councillor for Ravensthorpe Ed Murphy has been in touch. He says a lack of school places is a big problem in his ward, and the West ward. Ed Murphy is on the line now. Morning Ed.
ED MURPHY: Good morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: When you say a big problem, can you quantify that for us?
ED MURPHY: Well basically we should have replaced the West Town school with a school double its size about four years ago. It hasn’t been done. We have plenty of sites to choose from. The Council were dithering about the School Field, then they wanted us to go to the Hospital, then they wanted us to go to the River Quarter. And now we’ve got a Tory Government, we haven’t got the money.
PAUL STAINTON: We heard from John Holdich earlier, who said that the West Town school development would be going ahead though.
ED MURPHY: Well his officer told me last night it wouldn’t, so John Holdich  doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s behind the game on this one. And  the Member of Parliament is promoting free schools, rather than promoting schools that we need now in Peterborough. The only places they’ve got at the moment are Wittering.
PAUL STAINTON: But who’s to blame for this lack of school places in Peterborough? Is it the Government, for underestimating how many kids we were likely to get, new to the city?
ED MURPHY: The Government pulled the money when they got to power last year. They scrapped the programme for new build. The Council have used what money it’s got for pet projects, with an eye on the elections in Stanground, I think. Tha Labour Group will be discussing this later on today, urgently, at our first Group meeting. It’s a serious problem. There are people within the Group that are so concerned they’ve been making calls that somebody else, other than Peterborough City Council, should now be running our Education Services. They’re so bad.
PAUL STAINTON: When you say somebody else, who?
ED MURPHY: Well if you look at Lincolnshire or Cambridgeshire, every year they seem to improve the school league tables. Their schools seem to be performing better. Peterborough just aren’t.
PAUL STAINTON: So you’re calling for another county to run our school system?
ED MURPHY: We’re saying it’s so bad in Peterborough, we’re looking at the Council needs to get help from somewhere that’s big enough and good enough to do it. Peterborough as a unitary authority has not been running an effective education service. Many people can remember the closure of 4 or 5 secondary schools, including Bretton Woods, only a few years ago. And now we have to be building new secondary schools.
PAUL STAINTON: Ed Murphy, thank you for that. Ed Murphy, new councillor for  Ravensthorpe, saying things are so bad that a separate county should run our schools in Peterborough.