Supporters of Forest Hill School took a motion calling on Councillor Maslin to resign as Cabinet Member for Children & Young People to the Lewisham Deptford Labour’s General Committee. I wrote about the funding crisis and the campaigns to save the school last month. The school is actually outside the constituency but both workers and parents do live in the constituency. The motion was defeated.
The proponents of the motion argued that the Party had policy to support the school, that the Council had failed to take any of the measures proposed by the Party and Union, measures which have been taken in Greenwich: negotiating for relief on the PFI loans, extending the loan period, and giving them money. Cllr Maslin had refused to meet with parents until after the motion had been published and scab labour had been used to break the strike, although everyone now claims it was an accident.
The Labour Group issued a statement supporting both Cllr Maslin and the policy of letting the school fail. They argue that the dispute is between the school and the Union and there’s nothing the council can do and we should “work together rather than single out individuals”.
I decided to speak late and wasn’t called, but I would have made the following points, in our 2014 Council Manifesto, we promised to make things better in our secondary schools which are amongst the worst in London. The school is in free fall, it has lost 15 posts and dozens of teachers have resigned. This is an issue on the doorstep, people know that things can be better and they blame the Council and the Labour Party. We i.e. Deptford Labour Party, had already dealt with this in a collective fashion by passing a motion in March, the Cabinet member and group have ignored it, what do they expect?
In reply to the argument that funding Forest Hill School would mean defunding other schools I can only say that when the Council needed £½ million to run an enquiry over the South Bermondsey Planning process aka the Millwall CPO they found it. Also, Greenwich, our next-door neighbour, it seems can find money to support their schools deficits. This would seem to be a question of will.
I am also concerned that the Council’s supervision was so weak that the school got into this state, I suspect unless they tighten it up, it won’t be the last.
One speaker opposing the motion repeated the slur, I first heard from Councillor Maslin, accusing Martin Powell Davies, the NUT full timer of bad faith. So much for not personalising things.
While given the stakes in the debate were so high, the debate was on the whole well conducted, but every speaker for the motion, was interrupted/heckled. The worst behaviour was from Cllr Joe Dromey who interrupted Rebecca Lawrence three times and only stopped when told to do so by the Chair.
After the debate, another delegate, who was also not called, posted as follows to Facebook,
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