Day 54 – Dear Frank…

This letter was emailed to at 6:30am on Tuesday 23rd June.

Dear Frank,

The official consultation meetings are now over, we at SMS are sorely disappointed that our elected mayor did not not attend any. In fact, when interviewed by Stephen Rhodes on Monday 15th June (click here to listen – Frank is the YouTube SMS logo on the right), you seemed unaware of how many meetings had already taken place. Furthermore, in the interview, you apparently had an open mind on the future of schools structure, despite being on record as supporting a change to two-tier.

By the way, why is it that, in a council of 36 elected representatives plus a mayor, the only one who has not been elected by the voters to have responsibility over Education is you? Two years ago we elected you as mayor of Bedford Borough Council but Bedfordshire County Council had responsibility for Education. Nobody elected you as mayor of Bedford Borough Unitary Authority.

So some questions for you to ponder – perhaps you would be so good as to reply to us publically via a comment to this blog.

1. Will you now ask Jane Walker (portfolio holder for Children’s Services) to arrange a debate where all councillors and you are present and representations are made in the form of short presentations by SMS and any other significant group (Heads pro-change and Heads anti-change perhaps). This could be chaired by Phil Simpkins (Borough Chief Exec) then questions taken from the floor as in “Question Time”. Surely this is the most efficient way to allow councillors to hear all organised groups.

2. Will you also meet now in private with members of SMS to hear our concerns about the consultation and decision-making process?

3. Will you assure us that, whatever the legal advice concerning your powers, you will allow a simple majority of Full Council to decide this issue?

Please don’t leave a legacy of educational disruption Frank. That would subtract from all the good work you have done in 7 years as our mayor.

Love to Fred,



3 Responses to Day 54 – Dear Frank…

  1. A Governor says:

    Interestingly, Frank’s own manifesto did make some mention of education – that he would focus on using the Borough’s *proven* methods of improving standard in our schools. Even a generous man would struggle to include this proposed structure change as one of the Borough’s proven methods.

    (link to Frank’s manifesto summary

  2. Jonathan Parsons says:

    hi i just submitted this to a local paper but this seems like a good blog to to put it on and see what you all think

    As a person and parent who I must say sadly voted for our current Mayor, I hoped to see a better Bedford, instead I see a man who simply wishes to leave a mark on Bedford, leaving a few of broken promises along the way, My first problem is he simply seems to want Bedford’s good education system to be torn apart and replaced with his and the chief executives vision of utopia, a Two Tier System, economies of scale may work well in business, but in education it is not such a good idea, This is my children’s future, they get only one chance. Surely children’s education should not be destroyed because of money issues. Street cleaners are cheap, chewing gum can be removed, but my children’s future is forever; lets take a good system and make it great. Or do we have to end up like Northampton in disarray for years to come?
    As for Longholme Lake have you seen it? I think it might need a bit of cleaning, especially in our attempt to attract Olympic preparation to Bedford, how much has been spent on the attempt to attract potential competitors for training to come? Can we dig the hole in the ground for a rowing lake by 2012? I agree Castle Lane looks good, but did we need it? As for the bypass you have very limited say in this. It is more concern to the department of transport, and the government, but I suppose we need more housing land somewhere after all there is not much unused land within Bedford just a small area along Amptill road, Of course few other school sites that will become available will be very useful,
    Finally upper school headmasters, yes the money looks good with all those pupils, all the prestige of being In charge of 2,300 pupils in a Secondary School, but they will not have any knowledge of the individual, An epitaph to his time as Mayor, maybe a Frank Branston Primary School, but not if I have anything to say about this, I am a voter, I will!. So come on lets have a Mayor Election.

  3. A. Parent. says:

    Dear Frank,

    I would like to second the SMS call for you to take part in a fair and open debate.

    You appear to want to be the architect of change for Bedford’s education system but, at the same time, you appear to be actively avoiding hearing the voices of local people who have taken time to attend multiple meetings and to voice their thoughts about such a change.

    Believe me, emotions have run very high at many of those meetings. Here’s some news for you… for the parents speaking out at those meetings, it was not government grants, exam statistics or professionally written reports that they loose sleep over – it’s their children – and that investment trumps anything you bring to the table. For those parents its not just about “a step change in performance” (lets face it we already have outstanding schools in more ways than one), its also about avoiding educational disruption at absolutely any cost while continuing to value the happiness, well-being and ultimately the “childhood” of every single individual child, not just after but DURING any potential change in our school system.

    But maybe you wouldn’t understand that would you – you weren’t at the meetings.

    The longer you continue as the invisible man in this process the more you risk being accused of uncaring, monetary politics and the more suspicions will be raised about what the true motives of this “consultation” really are (and who the real winners and losers in this process could be).

    And if you get (what many people believe to be) your way and force through a change to 2-tier without ever looking into the eyes of a disgruntled parent or hearing the “other side” first hand, would that be local democracy in action or would it simply be “ivory towers politics” of the worst possible kind ? And if, in this uncertain world, your grand plan lost traction or, God forbid, derailled completely, would those parents (aka. townspeople, voters) ever forget who the architect of educational change was ? I wouldn’t.


    A. Parent.

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