» schools ¦ What You Can Get Away With

Two interesting stories from recent weeks that show what a couple of Secretaries of State think of it:

From last month, Michael Gove wants more powers to change how schools are run, to stop people having their say over what happens to their local school.

And today, Eric Pickles has started threatening councils that don’t do what he tells them with cuts to their funding. It’s about waste collections this time, but who knows what hoops he might make councils jump through for funding in the future?

As someone once said, while talking about something other than localism: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

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I recently wrote a post based on an article on Conservative Home that appeared to have been written by Lord Hanningfield, the leader of Essex County Council. Having seen the latest in their series of articles by ‘Lord Hanningfield’, it’s clear to me that Conservative Home have clearly been taken in by a clever con, perpetrated by someone pretending to be Lord Hanningfield in order to post views that he would never have.

It’s a clever con, because the call for Councils to be able to hold local referenda so they could abide by the opinions of local people on decisions is the sort of thing you would expect a Tory Council leader to be proposing in an effort to show just how in he was with the ethos of the Progressive Old Etonians and the Bullingdon Tendency, but to put these words in the mouth of Lord Hanningfield is the work of a master satirist, an Essex-based version of the Yes Men, perhaps.

For Hanningfield is the man who so majestically dismissed the concern and obejections of thousands of people in Colchester when he wanted to close two schools. Thousands against, just over a hundred in favour with even the local Tories pushing a different scheme to Hanningfield, but those schools are still closing because his Lordship has decreed they must. So, to have him as the mouthpiece for local decision-making – and that’s not even mentioning the County’s designs on Rivenhall Airfield over local objections – is a masterpiece of satire. Well done to whoever pulled this off!

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