The Gruesome truth about school places in North Bristol: what you won’t be reading in the Evening Cancer …
by lilly manilly
Whatever happened to that new school at Ashley Down?
They spent enough money on the feasibility studies and all seemed to be ok on October 5 2007, it was still on the “Members Information Sheet” (http://tinyurl.com/ajyvfg) under the heading “ITEMS SCHEDULED FOR CONSIDERATION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LEADER’S FORWARD PLAN”.
It notes that on November 15 2007 the CYPS would be “seeking Cabinet approval approval for the publication of Statutory Notices and to approve the awarding of the design and build contract for the new school to the LEP”. John Bees and Derek Pickup were the guys in charge then.
One week later on October 12th 2007 (on the next Members Information Sheet at http://tinyurl.com/bnvvuu) this item has mysteriously disappeared … Is this a change of plan and no new school anymore?
November 16 2007 and it’s back on the Members Information Sheet… slightly different … CYPS to seek approval on January 10 2008 to “identify additional primary provision in the Ashley/Bishopston Wards and for the publication of Statutory Notices”
Fast forward to January 10th 2008 and the pretence of the new school being progressed is dropped and replaced with the, previously unfeasible, plan to EXPAND SEFTON PARK SCHOOL!
The report to cabinet (pdf) states:
“A. That the Local Education Partnership (LEP) is requested to undertake Stage 0 and stage 1 design and development for the extension of the Sefton Park schools.”
“B. Where final cost proposals are within the approved capital programme the scheme is implemented.”
So what else happened over this period?
Funnily enough Gloucestershire County Cricket Club employs JBP consultants to run a campaign supporting their aspirations to expand. JBP is based in Clifton and headed up by Jennifer Bryant-Pearson. She happens to be a staff member of Lord Gordon of Strathblane (a Labour peer) at the House of Lords.
She is also listed as staff member to Francis Maud in the House of Commons. Her “other gainful occupation” is listed as “Managing Director, JBP Public Relations Limited, a public relations consultancy; personal client: Gloucester County Cricket Club”.
JBP’s website is very informative. Their “strategic approach” for GCCC includes the following:
“Build up a strong body of support for the proposals amongst a wide range of stakeholders at an early stage to counteract any potential opposition – particularly given two other major development proposals which had recently generated significant controversy and opposition both politically and in the local community”.
“Build strong, strategic relationships with key politicians at Bristol City Council to achieve their support and maximise GCCC’s involvement and influence in the planning process”.
And the result after a little get-together?
“Attendance of over 100 members of the political and business community at the Bristol reception, including explicit endorsement in the media and at the event itself from Cllr Helen Holland, Leader of Bristol City Council”.
The web page includes a nice picture of Helen Holland (above) fondling the GCCC’s balls by the way.
The Independent did try to phone Jennifer Bryant- Pearson back in June 2008 but unfortunately she declined to return their call. Their story ran:
“MPs called for a crackdown to prevent peers employing as assistants people who also work for commercial interests because they receive security passes giving them privileged access to ministers, MPs and peers.”
Now … the only opposition to the new school at Brunel came from the GCCC by way of a letter dated November 19th 2007 to our old friend Heather Tomlinson at the CYPS (http://tinyurl.com/358esh (pdf) – Appendix A) in which they state:
“We now respectfully submit that in our carefully considered opinion the needs of all will not be best met by building a new school on the College site”.
So, there we have it, the corporate aspirations of a cricket club with connections to the eminently honest and respectable Sir Allen Stanford and his banking empire smashing the prospects of Bristol’s primary school children and a respectfully silent media.
Hammond’s alternative? To cram a ridiculous number of kids into an already overcrowded Sefton Park School and, meanwhile, we still don’t have enough places for kids this year or next year.
If the council weren’t so concerned about their corporate aspirations and concentrated more on their boring old mundane responsibilities, (like looking after the welfare of our kids), we’d have a new school at Brunel ready to move into this September.
Maybe the stink of coercion and manipulation is the reason that so many Freedom of Information requests have been ignored or denied over this issue recently?