Monday, July 04, 2005

I am pleased to see that Adrian Sanders is at last taking an interest in the vital issue of the bleak future potentially facing parents and children at Upton School, and I welcome his involvement - better late than never, as I always say.

However, like your correspondent Brenda Heath I was more than a little annoyed to see his immediate reaction to this very real crisis is a blatant attempt to blame the Government for a debacle that is entirely the fault of his own Lib Dem colleagues on the council.

The idea that this closure is somehow the result of a conspiricy of under-funding is totally false, the figures given in his piece in last Friday's paper were, I am afraid, misleading in the extreme.

The facts are simple, had the Lib Dem administration not wasted several millions of their budget (and our money) on the needless appointment of several bureaucrats and officers in 2004, inflating their own pay and luxuries like expense accounts for the leader of the council there would be ample funds available to keep this school open.

His astonishing idea to ask the church for extra money would mean -in effect- that charitable donations were being used to subsidise Cllr Harris' mismanagment of the council budget.

Mr Sanders finds himself in another political situation that calls for clear leadership and tough action. Last time it was over the allowances issue and he let us down - this time there must be no backsliding. Kind words and sympathetic noises directed at the parents is just not enough.

I call on him, please, to set aside party political considerations just once, and to use his position at the head of the local Lib Dem party to force the ruling group to re-think their decision.
Only he has the authority to call his troops to order. It can and must be done


Anonymous said...

That was a very silly letter to write in my opinion.
I agree that Upton St. James should be kept open, and that the Lib-Dems are doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons. However, it is not Adrian Sanders' responsibility. The implication of your letter is that Mr. Sanders is somehow the boss of the local Lib-Dems, which of course he isn't. In the same vein wouldn't that make Anthony Steen the leader of the local Tories?
That having been said, I do agree with you over Upton St. James.

Marcus Wood said...

Anthony Steen is the effective leader of the local Tories, if not him who else? By definition local constituency parties are always lead by the person they exist to elect. Adrian Sanders has the authority -if he chooses to use it- to lead his supporters (the constituency party) to force the councillors to re-think the issue. He hasn't done so because he doesn't want to cause a 'row' in his own side. In other words he is prepared to sacrifice these kids on the alter of a political 'quiet life'.

Anonymous said...

I thought that association chairmen were the leaders of the local constituency chairmen - they have, after all, been elected by the whole association.
In addition, why should Adrian Sanders be seen as the leader of Chris Lomas, John Davis or Peter Killick given that they don't represent wards in his constituency?
I don't think that the MP for Totnes nor the MP for Torbay would be able to lead the relevant party's association from the neighbouring constituency either.
I agree with you that Adrian Sanders is keeping quiet when he shouldn't, and I think that you are right about Upton St. James, but I don't see how the local MP can be regarded as 'the leader'. Who then would be the local Lib-Dem leader if you had won the seat earlier in the year, or the Tory leader if Anthony Steen had lost his seat earlier in the year?
Anyhow, keep up the work on Upton St. James and let us hope it stays open.

Marcus Wood said...

Thank you for your comments, I can't really say much on other parties so you may be right about Adrian/the Lib Dems, maybe he doesn't have any influence with them as you suggest.

I have been both an Association Chairman and the Parliamentary Candidate. The Candidate/MP is clearly the political leader of each constituency, certainly in the Conservative party. The candidate is elected by the local party, at the adoption meeting.

Anonymous said...

That may be so, but what then would happen if there were two Conservative MPs in the area? Yourself or Anthony Steen or both?

Marcus Wood said...

Anthony would speak for the Totnes constituency which includes Brixham, I would speak for the rest of the Torbay area.

This is an interesting strand -the question of the split in responsibility between two very dirrerent constituencies both with an interest in Torbay; we have just had a difficult situation to resolve which straddled the two constituencies. Four conservative councillors, two from Brixham (Totnes) and two from Paignton (Torbay) resigned the whip.

Anthony was very active in meeting the two Brixham councillors and he and his political supporters successfully persuaded the pair to reconsider their decision and return to the fold, whereas we were much less successful on this side of the bay, our two rebels are in the process of being obliged to resign.

On the broader point, Politics is not like business, absolute authority doesn't exist - it's invairably pretty loose because political parties are just a group of co-operating volunteers.

I do agree that Adrian has no absolute 'hire and fire' authority over his councillors but he does have moral and political leadership and he could and should have used it to push them towards a re-think on Upton.

As it is I think he is confident that the Schools Review Committee will overturn the decision anyway - this will, of course, get him off the hook.(he asked a question in the House on this point on Tuesday).