Day 77 – SMS at Full Council

Last night at Bedford Borough’s Full Council meeting, SMS asked a two-part question of the Speaker, who asked the Mayor to respond.

1. Would you please clarify the decision-making process now that legal advice has been given, especially with regard to the majorities needed at each stage in Executive and Full Council.

2. As Full Council now has a role to play in any decision to change schools structure, and bearing in mind that a common belief is that the public consultation document (and indeed process) has been very one-sided, would you allow a presentation of the alternative view against change to be made at Full Council before members are asked to vote on this issue.

Frank Branston’s response to the first question was extremely confusing to those members of SMS in the audience and the Speaker eventually intervened to suggest that Phil Simpkins (Chief Execeutive of Bedford Borough) write to SMS to clarify the majorities needed at the various stages of the process. We will post that information when it arrives.

In answer to the second part of the question, Frank Branston said that it was his intention to hold an informal public meeting where supporters of both two and three tier would make their case.

Critically, he didn’t say whether all councillors would be expected to attend, whether SMS would be invited to present for three-tier, and when this would be held. Frank also merely said that it was his intention…not whether it would actually happen.

SMS could always present for both sides you know…a bit like the consultation meetings where Chris Hilliard presented for both sides.

SMS now calls for Frank Branston to arrange this “informal” meeting as soon as possible after the consultation period has ended, preferably during the week beginning July 27th and with all councillors strongly invited to attend. Should they be unavailable on the chosen evening, SMS will contact them individually or in groups to arrange to meet.

Again, we will post here when the date is known…

After the replies to our questions, SMS made a short statement to Full Council.

We oppose the change to two-tier on educational and financial grounds based on evidence rather than supposition or conjecture.

We believe that the costs (both financial and human) of this massive disruption far outweigh the benefits – if any benefits exist at all.

We would emphasise that Every Child Matters and this includes the generation of children that would be negatively impacted by any decision to change.


Don’t forget to keep talking about this issue, keep it in the news, keep thinking about how you can help today.


8 Responses to Day 77 – SMS at Full Council

  1. Leodis says:

    Well done, SMS! The Mayor must be held to account for his lack of public engagement in this issue. His answer to the way in which the vote would be held is indicative of this. If he and the borough are serious about not prejudging the outcome then an open honest debate in front of FULL council and allowing a free vote for all councillors should hold no fear for them.

    Perhaps they doubt their own ‘evidence’…

    • Lynne says:

      The plot thickens!
      I received a response about last night’s council meeting from one of the councillor’s present; Tim Hill. See following link:

      • Michael Headley says:

        Yes, Tim is absolutely correct. In a Mayoral system to override an executive proposal on a “policy framework” item like this there needs to ultimately be a 2/3 majority – anything less than this and it goes through.

        To work through the stages in order it is:
        1. Executive take their decision,. If its NOT to change then this is final decision. If their proposal is to change to 2 tier then it goes to full council (stage 2)
        2. Council vote on proposal – can send it back to executive with reasons to think again with 50%+ majority (goes to stage 3). If 50%+ in support of 2 tier then this is final decision.
        3. Executive meet again to consider council’s resolution. Can decide not to proceed and that becomes final decision, or they send 2 tier proposal back to full council (goes to stage 4)
        4. Full council can accept the 2 tier recommendation or if they want to change it there needs to be a 2/3 majority.

        This has actually been what we have had to work with since 2002, when the mayoral system was introduced by the wishes of the electorate.

  2. Ed Thomas says:

    Just a quick note:

    As in one of my previous blogs, I firmly believe the neighbouring councils are having a good laugh/joke at Bedford Borough’s handling of this one-sided consultation and non-debate. Are we really going to get to the situation when the Mayor and his executive says:

    New rules! Sorry, best of five, sorry, best of seven, sorry, double or quits, sorry, next goal wins, sorry, we will play until we win! Congratulations Mayor Dick Dastardly! Frank, here’s a bit of advice – ‘Cheats never prosper’ Remember you never did catch that pigeon, just look at the mess in Bedford!!


  3. River Song says:

    I read the Times and Citizen today with interest. So the Bypass has run out of money and the council have to secure an extra £20 million. So if they go ahead with changing our excellent school system, will the money run out then too? Will we be begging for extra funds to see that through to the end? Surely, we should learn from this experience before we make another costly error by needlessly changing the education system.
    Just look at the farcical way this decision could be made, is this really the best democracy can come up with? I feel betrayed by all this. I wonder how the consultation documents will be considered. I urge everyone to make their voices heard by filling them in.At least then, we will have an idea about how the general public feels.

  4. William says:

    My final thought for a couple of weeks as I am off on my holiday (I know I will be missed!)…….

    I would suggest that a large number of our elected members are also governors at local schools (middle, upper and lower and some all three)

    I am sure that they will have to ‘declare an intrest’ when the debate takes place at both exectutive and at full council (If it gets that far) Would they still be allowed to vote or could someone challenge this saying that thier vote was unfair?

    If elected members are not allowed to vote or decided that they could be challenged and decide to abstain and leave the room – where does that leave everyone?

  5. savemiddleschools says:

    Have a good holiday William !

  6. Ed Thomas says:

    River song, I completely agree with your thoughts. It is also interesting how a man, who is so disinterested by public opinion, views and concerns at the consultation meetings is now pleading for 20,000 names for his petition. Double standards!! Does this mean when the SMS present their huge number of signed petitions, the Mayor will immediately stop this one-sided consultation?

    By the way, why is Jane Walker so interested in roads, surely the Education Portfolio Holder should be building bridges!!

    Another T and C highlight (page 6) How comes America get Obama and we get a pie-eating (be polite Ed) mayor!


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