In June the Herts County Council Scrutiny Committee undertook a review of the way in which repairs are carried out to school buildings in Hertfordshire.
I was really shocked and surprised to learn that Hertfordshire’s school buildings are in such a state of disrepair that they are in the worst 10% in the country. I have no idea how this is measured or quantified, but given the leafiness and comparative wealth of much of Hertfordshire compared to say, Tower Hamlets or Newcastle, it was certainly not what I expected.
The scrutiny panel made its views pretty clear and the Labour Party believes strongly that children cannot learn or work to their capacity in dreadful buildings. This is a huge issue which will cost at least £15 million to put right. The Tory County Council has recently made cruel and unnecessary cuts to a raft of important services: mobile libraries, bus services and now Home-Start. But crumbling school buildings will surely have to be attended to if they have any pride at all in what they provide to the communities they are meant to serve.
We await the response of the Tory Councillors responsible for schools and for the Council’s money, but in the meantime the Liberal Democrats are indulging in ridiculous cries for action ahead of learning what the council intends to do. Sometimes they really give the impression that these Tory failures give them real pleasure because they can play grandstanding games with them.
The Labour Group at County Hall wants real action on what is a shocking state of affairs so we will wait (but not for long) for a considered response and some suggested solutions to ensure the quality education of children across the county.
Then we will turn our attention to how we got to this state of affairs, but let’s deal with the present and the future first.
County Councillor, Hitchin North
North Herts. District Councillor, Hitchin Bearton