You may recall my posting “Another Nail In The Coffin of Local Democracy, February 7th”. It related to the Government’s proposed change in legislation affecting school admissions appeals, where parents fight for a preferred school place for their child. (To see the proposed new legislation, click this link).
The Secretary of State’s proposed changes, due to be published on 19th February, would mean that Kent County Councillors could no longer represent families in their constituencies in admissions appeals where the County Council was the Admissions Authority – which is most of the schools in Kent!
I felt really strongly about this, as did most of my Cabinet colleagues – the issue was debated at the 2nd February meeting of the Kent Cabinet (to view the webcast click here – “School Admissions Appeals” is Item 6).
I contacted the Courier, who agreed with me that this was truly an unacceptable undermining of democracy by central Government. We agreed that they would run the story in next week’s edition, and I directed the reporter to the relevant sources of information.
Then yesterday, I spoke to a senior education officer at KCC, who had relayed our vociferous concerns to Ed Balls, the Secretary of State for Education. It appears that our officer made a strong representation of our feelings, and that Mr Balls actually listened to Kent’s protest. As a result, the wording of the new legislation was changed yesterday to allow County Councillors up and down the country to continue to represent their constituents.
So whilst I had to call the newspaper and pull the feature, it’s positive proof that Kent still has huge influence with national Government!