Tuesday, 14 October 2008


Today in the Sentinel there’s yet another article about the BSF fiasco. It seems Education leaders have denied reports that a shortlist of firms bidding to build the new schools has been scrapped. These same education leaders are accusing critics of being “hell-bent” on derailing the programme by claiming the bidding process has run into trouble. See the Sentinel link for the full article http://www.thisisstaffordshire.co.uk/education/Schools-claims-rejected/article-397869-detail/article.html

Stoke-on-Trent City Council originally drew up a shortlist of potential contractors in 2006. But, the article says, since then, the plans have radically changed and they have become “mired in controversy”. Campaigners fighting to save schools or gain new buildings have lodged legal challenges, and schools and city MP’s even joined forces to draw up their own alternative proposals.

Now the city council has denied the building programme is in further trouble. It comes after reports in the trade press that firms will be forced to retender for the construction work. Contracts are expected to be announced next summer and building is due to start in 2010.

Roger Ibbs says in the article "It would appear that a minority of people seem hell-bent on attempting to halt or derail the BSF programme at all costs."
So what’s the truth behind this? Are there any councillors or council officials out there reading this blog who are prepared to tell us what’s REALLY happening with the BSF Programme?

The problem is, not many people living in Stoke on Trent who are affected by BSF feel that they’ve been properly consulted, listened to or treated with any respect. It’s no wonder that people worked with the MP’s to draw up alternative proposals, and why people like the Trentham Action Group was formed and goes from strength to strength.

We in the South of the City are still waiting for answers about where the Parkhall Academy will actually be sited, and how the children of secondary school age across this area of the city will be dispersed amongst the remaining schools in the area. We keep asking, but no answers are forthcoming.

When are we going to be told! I don’t know what your views are, but I think the council has definitely shot itself in the foot on this one. I know that Mayor Meredith thinks he is doing what is right, but in the face of so much challenge and opposition from the people of the city – how can anyone possibly think that is still the case? What do you think?


nita said...

Alison. I'm just wondering, that because the BSF Proposals have changed so many times, the building tenders have never got finalised. So, therefore, each time a final docoments is produced, they have to start from scratch?

Surely, it is impossible to give contracts out, when you don't even know where an Academy is being built. Where will the Edensor Academy end up. It appears, that it is unlikely to be the gasometer site, as someone informed us on another article, that there is mine shafts in the area. The majority of us will be pleased about this, as we have said in our objections, this is a totally unsafe site.

Well, for a change its not us at Longton High, that can be accused of holding it up, ha ha. All we want, is for someone to take care of the pupils remaining on site, when the school closes in 2010. As yet, no offers are on the cards.

Alison said...

Yes Nita, all good points. It's interesting to note that, in the Sentinel article it says "the plans have radically changed" since the original shortlist of potential contractors was drawn up in 2006.

Surely this confirms what we already knew? That the consultation process was flawed because what was consulted on isn't what is actually going to happen!

Does this mean we have to have a new consultation process now?

We need answers!

nicky said...

Well I will try to give a web
site but don't know if my ICT is up to it:


Anyway I guess it's probably one of the sentinel's sources.

Roger Ibbs moans about a minority of people trying to derail the BSF program, but it's really a minority of people - him and Meredith - trying to send it down the wrong tracks (and I'm not even sure they are both on the same track).

I think the majority of the people in city and a large number of councillors even know what way BSF should go and it all comes down to the issue of 'consultation' - or lack of it. It needs to address what communities want, not what Meredith has convinced himself is the way forward.

What I would most like to see happen to BSF is a smooth change through the points onto the right track. But if that isn't possible then unfortunately it will need to be derailed first. But even that would be better than carrying on in the direction it is currently headed.

nita said...

Nicky, to be fair, isn't it Serco that have put the proposals together, not Mr Meredith? They are the ones providing the pupil numbers, and where the schools are best placed. Given this information, Mr Meredith/Council have to make their decision.

nicky said...

Nita, Yes, I had a good go at serco on the other bsf blog though. Also Meredith needs to take some responsibility. His own CYP scrutiny committee has made a recommendation at least with regard to Trentham and he needs to stop dragging his feet and respond.

Also he irritated me in his last email (fielded by one of his minions), because I had tried to point out he was being misled by serco and others. I was still trying to give the man the benefit of the doubt for goodness sake, but he won't listen.

And he actually says in his email that "the reorganisation is not being dictated by serco -responsibility for the future of education in the city lies firmly with the city council"

So he's not wanting to blame serco but he's not quite going as far as admitting it's down to him. In his city council there are a significant number of councillors trying to do the right thing and being thwarted by his alliance lot.

And despite evidence I gave him of why an academy isn't a good idea for Trentham he comes back and says he has no doubt that it is, but does not back it up with any reasoned argument about why it should be an academy at all.

On the more positive side, there is a bit of negotiation between TAG members and the council going on re the pupil numbers, hopefully they will begin to see sense. You see we would rather negotiate, but there is no doubt that where that is not possible, a battle it will have to be instead.

nita said...

Nicky, is it the recommendation, made by the CYP, that was made a few months ago, maybe August, you are referring to? Was this supposed to have been discussed at the EMB meeting, when they decided to pass the closure of Longton High School, and the expansion of Sandon High? Are you telling us that this is still ongoing, and has not been finalised? I thought the decision on Trentham had been made at the Full Council Meeting, the other week?

The TAG, has always stated, that they question the projected pupil numbers for the school. Good luck with your negotiations.

Lost4Words said...

Nita, as far as I am aware, the chair of the O&SC is still awaiting a response on their recommendation.
We shall just have to wait and see what the meeting with the council brings....they're usually such good listeners!!!

nicky said...


The history is the CYP O&S committee recommended that THS and St. Joseph's federate and THS is taken off closure list and put on renovation list. Can be seen in minutes 9/7/08:


We (TAG) thought it would be discussed at the EMB, the one that closed Longton. But instead that is where they said they would report back on this in due course. This promise is minuted 13/08/08:


As it wasn't discussed at EMBs after that we thought it ought to be discussed and voted on at full council so we submitted a petition requesting that this recommendation from CYP O&S be discussed and voted on at full council. But the council denied the TAG petition from the meeting. That's why we had tht demo at the council on Oct 2nd.
The only things that were discussed and voted on at the full council were Terry Follows sack serco motion (whch inclued bits about Trentham and other schools affected by bsf disaster) and whether to have some rather good ammendments to this as suggested by Peter Kent-Baguley, Alby Walker and Terry himself. These are minuted 2/10/08:


The CYP O&S recommendation has still NOT been discussed or voted on and the EMB have still NOT reported back on this. But they have to follow through on this promise. Michael Coleman told me he has requested this report from the EMB and told another TAG member he is chasing this up most days. There are other things which I won't go into but suffice it to say that he is not going to let this drop.