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Politics of the playground

Betsan Powys | 09:03 UK time, Tuesday, 22 June 2010

conkers_string_270.jpgCrumbs yesterday, scraps today.

I don't just mean the sorts of scraps of comfort George Osborne has offered some, before the budget delivers tough news for all and what the Chancellor would ask us to accept is tough love.

I mean another kind of scrap - the one developing fast between the Assembly Government and Cardiff council over the re-organisation of schools in the city.

The latest round in an increasingly bitter row? A written ministerial statement, normally used to announce major decisions or significant spending plans, arrives from Education Minister Leighton Andrews.

The purpose of this one? To point out that the Council's official notice that they propose to reduce the size of Whitchurch High School's annual intake refers to powers under "Section 28(1)(b) of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998", when it should have referred to "Section 89 of the 1998 Act and Regulation 11(1) (b) of the Education (Determination of Admission Arrangements) (Wales) Regulations 2006".

Of course it's important to get these things right. And Mr Andrews seemingly can't resist another dig, saying "The appropriate method for reducing an admission number had been drawn to the attention of the local authority on a number of occasions by Welsh Assembly Government officials".

But a written ministerial statement to point out an administrative error by a local council?

Some would argue the statement could just as easily have read "Na na na na na" and come equipped with a dunce's cap.

The council leader, Rodney Berman would seem to agree. "It is regrettable and inexplicable why the Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning should choose to make a statement on a legal matter. This is simply a technical issue and does not mean that the Council is not proceeding with its proposals."

What's clear is that relations between Wales' largest council and the Assembly Government are rapidly approaching rock bottom.

The local Assembly member for Cardiff North, Tory Jonathan Morgan, who's strongly opposed to the Whitchurch proposals, needs little encouragement to follow Mr Andrews' lead.

"Cardiff Council clearly lack the capacity and expertise to reorganise the schools in the capital city. The publishing of the statutory notice for Whitchurch High School under the incorrect legislation demonstrates yet again how ill equipped this authority is.

"Whitchurch High School is popular and successful. Instead of penalising success the council should deal with poor performance elsewhere.

"This issue is now descending into farce"

Meanwhile I head off to Westminster to find out how much more difficult relations are about to get between those who share out the money left in the public purse and those who spend it.


This thread is now closed and no more comments will be published.

Dr Simon Brooks has asked us to point out that he did not, as alleged in comments earlier published on this post, run a 'wall daubing campaign earlier in the decade'. We apologise for this inaccuracy.


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