Last night several members of SMS were at Wootton Upper School for the Mayoral Question Time organised by a group of Sixth Formers (incidentally they got the biggest round of applause of the night and deservedly so – good show guys!)
Chaired by Chris Gill of the BoS, the 6 Mayoral candidates answered questions from the audience on all the major issues of the campaign…transport, regeneration, crime and disorder, balancing the books etc…
…and generally we have to say they all gave very reasonable answers most of the time…but with the occasional exception there seemed to be very little difference between their answers…they even agreed with each other !
And then the schools issue came up. Here there was a clear difference.
Parvez Akhtar said that “The first thing that I am going to do is ring the Schools’ Minister and ask him whether he can guarantee the BSF money exists” and, later on, “It’s not going to happen”
Apu Bagchi said “I’m not in favour of change.”
Tony Hare said “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”
Eve Robinson-Morley said “I’d like a referendum of the people it affects”
Dave Hodgson said “I’m in favour of two-tier but I will accept the Full Council decision and there are other provisos”
James Valentine said “As a Labour Mayor working with a Labour Schools’ Minister I’ll be able to secure the BSF money”…mmm…maybe it won’t be a Labour Schools’ Minister for very long though…he also didn’t seem to realise that there is a huge underfunding in the lower-primary switch…very worrying James, you seemed so plausible and smooth, yet have so little in-depth knowledge of the issues…
What was obvious is that this is one of the only issues that divides the main candidates and that, in a potentially low turn-out, supporters of this campaign can make a difference to the final vote.
We will be emailing our supporters’ list later today in order to let them know our thoughts on the candidates’ views, and to encourage them to exercise their democratic right next Thursday.