National Issues, Local Effects

Government Identify Swindon As Having Largest Council-Tax Increase in England

Image reading "Thanks to Swindon's Conservative Administration, the council tax bill you get this week will include the biggest Council Tax rise in the county. #ToryTaxRise"

Figures produced by the Department for Communities and Local Government have shown Swindon to have the largest percentage increase in council tax in England.

Including Parish Precept charges, Swindon residents will be receiving an average percentage increase of 10.35%. That’s 3% more than the next largest average council-tax increase in a local authority area- Waveney District Council area.

Labour declares war on late payment to small businesses in Swindon

Swindon Council Civic Offices

Nearly half of small businesses in Swindon experienced late payment from bigger companies last year, costing them tens of thousands of pounds and forcing many out of business.

In Swindon there are 17,025 registered small businesses and 8002 small business are owed money in late payments worth just under £82m.

On Thursday 23rd March Jeremy Corbyn addressed the Federation of Small Business Conference where he said that a future Labour Government would address this scandal by requiring any company bidding for a public sector contract to pay its own suppliers within 30 days and would look at introducing for the private sector a system of binding arbitration with fines for persistent late payers.

The Leader of the Swindon Labour Group has stated his support for this policy, and has urged Swindon’s two MPs to acknowledge this exploitation of small businesses rather than making political attacks against Jeremy Corbyn.

Speaking to FSB conference delegates, Jeremy Corbyn said:

Government New Schools Formula “Unfair” on Swindon Students

Commonweal School

The Government new proposed schools funding formula has been criticised as “unfair” by the Conservative Cabinet Member for Education, Fionuala Foley, with her signing joining with 38 other Cabinet Members for Education in signing a letter condemn to the Prime Minister expressing their concern for the government’s proposals.

Join me on the #OurNHS national demonstration

Our NHS logo

On Saturday March 4th I will be joining thousands marching calling for no cuts,  no closures, no privatisation of our NHS.

As a nurse I have seen how stretched our NHS is. Wards now full, overflow into day units now having to stay open to allow for overnight stays., stretching staff even further. Staff work long hours, meeting the often life saving needs of their patients. The pressure is endless, services are on their knees. Our Prime minister Teresa May is not hearing us as we cry out & say more needs to be done.

I've recently moved into public health, the preventative education arm of health care.  Social care too is doing all it can WITH THE LITTLE FUNDING IT HAS, it is not enough. This then adds to the pressure within the hospitals. We need a joined up properly funded NHS.

To find out more and join us http://www.ournhs.info/

“The NHS will last as long as there are folk with the faith to fight for it." Nye Bevan - founder of the NHS

Swindon Council Faces Budget Blackhole following Government New Homes Bonus Announcement

Swindon Council Civic Offices

Swindon Council could face losing up to £7m of government funding in a matter of a few years, following the government’s announcement in their local government finance settlement that future New Homes Bonus money will be dependent on local authorities delivering enough new homes or that too many housing development applications aren’t dependent on being granted through planning appeal.

The Government has said they will revisit the case for withholding New Homes Bonus from 2018-19 from local authorities that are not making positive decisions on planning applications and delivering housing growth. To encourage more effective local planning they are also considering withholding payments for homes that are built following an appeal.

https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2016-12-15/debates/B374F8AC-A29F-4ABA-8083-44AEA90A299F/LocalGovernmentFinanceSettlement

Labour Group Leader Meet with Ofsted Directors

Swindon Council Civic Offices

The Labour Group’s Leader and Spokesperson for Education, Councillors Jim Grant and Carol Shelley, met with Bradley Simmons (Regional Director for Ofsted) and Simon Rowe (Senior HMI) on Wednesday this week to discuss the problems with Swindon’s education system and how it can rebuild.

The Labour Group agreed with Ofsted’s assessment that the Council was too defensive and failing to understand the problems faced in Swindon’s education system.

Ofsted also said that the Council’s 2014 Education Improvement Strategy had the right objectives in it, but needed to be delivered.

This follows Bradley Simmons, Regional Director for Ofsted, sending an open letter to Swindon Council criticising them for not recognising the problems in its local education provision.

The letter was sent on Friday 11th November to Swindon Council, the town’s two Conservative MPs and other local education stakeholders.

Labour Calls for Action following Ofsted “Failing Education System” Calls

Children in class

Labour is calling for action to resolve Swindon’s failing education system, following the Regional Director for Ofsted sending an open letter to Swindon Council criticising them for not recognising the problems in its local education provision.

The letter was sent on Friday 11th November to Swindon Council, the town’s two Conservative MPs and other local education stakeholders.

Bradley Simmons, Ofsted’s Regional Director, expresses his concerns in the letter about Swindon’s declining local education provision with less than 50% of Swindon secondary school students now being taught in “good” schools.

He also highlights:

Unanswered Questions On Grammar Schools for Swindon

Swindon Labour campaigners against Grammar Schools

I was interested to read an article on the BBC website making the point that fewer than half of all grammar schools in the country use free-school-meals as part of their admissions process.

We hear lots of talk of the social mobility impact of grammar schools, but at the most local grammar school to Swindon fewer than 4% of pupils receive free-school-meals. This compares to the Swindon average of 36% of pupils.  Will those pupils from more advantaged backgrounds in Swindon, who have parents who can fund additional tutors and all of the preparation for the 11-plus, find that it is easier to gain places than those pupils who receive free-school-meals?

Is there really any evidence that grammar schools will make a huge difference to the lives of pupils? In their post-war heyday, there was a long and sustained rise in the economy and the expansion of the job market to create many more professional level jobs which arguably had a much greater impact on social mobility than grammar schools.  

Grammar Schools: Examining the Evidence

The Old School, Euclid Street

Since Theresa May became Prime Minister in July, grammar schools have once again become part of the national debate. A former grammar school pupil herself, May’s government is planning to lift the existing ban on selective schooling imposed in 1998. The arguments put forward in support of this system are that selective education boosts social mobility and provides an educational advantage to grammar school pupils. Does an examination of the evidence support these claims?

My thoughts on Grammar Schools

Councillor Fay Howard with sign reading "Education not Segregation"

I'm not sure grammar schools are the answer or even if there is a issue that needs addressing. The Tory government talk of Grammar schools improving the educational experiences for young people across the country, why do they need improving?

My children have just completed their education and I'm still very much in touch with families across Swindon, no-one has been telling me the school system has to change. Actually many tell me they'd like the government to leave it alone for a while so teachers can just get on and teach!

But looking at Grammar schools, back in the 1950s until the 1970s children took an exam (the 11 Plus) at the age of 11. It divided children into either Grammar School students if they passed or Secondary Modern students if they didn't.  From the 1970's, Grammar schools were phased out in many areas and replaced with the comprehensive system for everyone that has remained in place since.  So why does Teresa May’s government want Grammar schools back?

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