Labour’s education lead councillor in South Gloucestershire has expressed his shock and disappointment that the two Coalition parties failed to defend their education policies at a public meeting held last night.
The National Union of Teachers staged the education hustings event in Kingswood yesterday, but only Labour’s Jo McCarron and representatives from UKIP, the Greens and TUSC attended to answer questions from teachers, parents and the general public on their education policies. The Conservative and Liberal Democrat candidates did not attend or send a replacement to spell out their policies for the future, or defend their record in government.
Councillor Gareth Manson, Labour’s Lead Member for children’s services on South Gloucestershire Council, was unimpressed by the no show. Speaking after the hustings, Councillor Manson (Woodstock Ward) said:
“Parents, teachers, other residents and indeed the other candidates took the trouble to come along and discuss the policies they want in place to improve the life chances for Kingswood’s children and young people. They deserved the chance to hear from the two political parties that have been governing us for the past five years. Those parties have a lot to explain, such as the damage caused by cancelling Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme, the chronic shortage of primary school places in our area, the process that allowed the Grange School to close and the increased competition in the sector. Perhaps they did not attend because they do not want to face the general public on these thorny issues.
I was particularly shocked that the Conservative candidate did not attend, as he sat on the Education Select Committee in the last parliament and is a former adviser and close friend of Michael Gove, who implemented most of the policies that our schools are now having to contend with. It would appear that his interest in education does not extend to his own constituents.”