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'Betrayal' of pupils is slated

PUBLISHED: 17:37 30 April 2009 | UPDATED: 13:33 24 August 2010

by Alex Wellman A row has erupted between three political parties following a council decision to go ahead with plans for a controversial school. The Liberal Democrats have been accused of betrayal and forcing parents with children to

by Alex Wellman

A row has erupted between three political parties following a council decision to go ahead with plans for a controversial school.

The Liberal Democrats have been accused of 'betrayal' and forcing parents with children to 'suffer' by the Conservatives and Labour Party.

Plans for Wembley Academy were agreed during a planning meeting at Brent Town Hall in Forty Lane, Wembley, on Tuesday night.

Labour has always supported the building of a school on the site in the playing fields in Bridge Road, Wembley, and even gave the plans the go-ahead before losing office in 2006.

A furious Cllr Muhammed Butt, deputy leader of Brent Labour group, tore into the Lib Dems on the Willesden and Brent Times Facebook site after Cllr Bob Wharton, Member for Children and Families, blamed the old administration for a lack of school places in a previous story.

Cllr Butt said: "Brent's schools have benefited from our Labour Government's investment in our children, but the failings of this administration are tragic and far reaching.

"I have met parents who have suffered because they have one child in Oakington Manor Primary School and another in Elsley Primary School.

"There are parents who have applied for six, yes six, primary schools only to be told there are no places at all for them and they will have to send their young children to places no where near to where they live.

"How Cllr Wharton is helping our parents and children is beyond me and everyone who is affected by their inaction.

"All he can offer is relief for parents facing difficulties. He needs to look deeper into his crystal ball, how much more do the parents and our children have to suffer?

"He should have continued with decisions made in 2006 by the Labour group for the academy in Wembley Park instead of sham public consultations and looking at sites that could never hold schools and academies.

"Promises were also made that he and his party could not keep like zero per cent increase in Council Tax and to stop the academy, but the petty bickering amongst the Lib Dems and Tories has bought nothing but misery and anguish for the residents of Brent.

"I sincerely hope that our administration-at-arms can come together and do something positive for the people of Brent, but I doubt that judging their performance."

Brent Council is currently run as a coalition authority between the Tories and Lib Dems but the relationship has soured since the Lib Dems reneged on a pre-election promise not to build the ARK (Absolute Return for Kids) sponsored school.

Cllr Bob Blackman, deputy leader of Brent Council and Conservative leader, said: "We fought an election in 2006 opposing these plans, and so did the Lib Dems who emphatically stated they would not support a school in this location.

"Once elected they switched their support to the Academy - a complete betrayal of all those who voted for them.

"We as Conservatives have remained true to our word; we remain vehemently opposed to the plans and will continue to oppose the building of a school on this site."

Cllr Wharton said: "In the last few days the Council has sent offers to the families who applied for primary places.

"We had more applicants than places, and there are still 50 children we have not been able to place.

"We are also having to deal with parents who did not get an offer at any of their top preferences.

"I am simply pleased that we now have planning permission for permanent buildings at Wembley Park for an all-through primary and secondary school. We have progressed this project as fast as government procedures allow.

"It is, however, only one element in our strategy for school places. We will be looking to expand two primary schools as an emergency measure to take extra classes for September.

"We will also be pursuing our plans for expanding primary and secondary provision in schools in both the north and the south of the borough."

alex.wellman@archant.co.uk


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