Author: Adam Volz

Delivering on our election pledges

Back in 2015 at the last local elections, Nottingham Labour pledged to ‘guarantee a choice of places for every child at a local primary school.’ Since then we’ve been working hard, alongside Council officers and with our local schools to meet this pledge.

In 2015, 91% of children and parents received their 1st or 2nd choice primary school. Today, (16th April 2018) on national offer day, we were able to offer 97% of children and parents their 1st or 2nd choice, and every child in Nottingham City has been offered a primary school place.

We’ve worked with local teachers and school governors to build new school buildings and expand good schools in areas where demand is high. Nottingham is a growing city, with both economic and population growth outstripping the national average.

In recent years Nottingham Labour has invested over £40million to create new schools places, new jobs in local schools and improved school facilities and learning environments. We will have created 4778 new school places when our expansion programme is completed.

More families are choosing to live and work in Nottingham, our local schools are more popular than ever and now that Nottingham City has the highest proportion of Ofsted ‘outstanding’ rated schools in the region, demand has been rising. Our investment has improved schools, dealt with growing demand in Nottingham’s primary schools and significantly increased the proportion of families securing their preferred primary schools.

Our most recent investment created 210 additional places at Mellers Primary, in Redford, which was officially opened by Jermaine Jenas, Jawaid Khaliq and Ellie Downie back in November. Construction works are underway now at primary schools in Bestwood, Bilborough and Wollaton to ensure that we continue to improve good local schools and meet our 2015 election pledge.  

You can find more information about primary school national offer day and our school investment programme here: http://www.mynottinghamnews.co.uk/higher-percentage-of-pupils-get-first-choice-primary-school/#5ad44dc651180

 

Cllr Sam Webster
Portfolio Holder for Business, Education and Skills
Nottingham City Council

 

Nottingham’s Pioneering Schools Model Goes From Strength to Strength

In September 2017 we launched the Nottingham Schools Trust, a groundbreaking new model for local schools to work together, share resources and drive improvements by cooperation and collaboration. The first Trust of its kind in the country is made up of 30 local schools, enabling Council maintained community schools to join together in a not-for profit charitable structure.

The Trust isn’t restricted to Council maintained schools. Of the 30 member schools, 3 are standalone academies and 3 are schools for children with special educational needs. Since the launch of Nottingham Schools Trust more schools have expressed an interest in joining and Foxwood Academy, a special school in Bramcote recently became the newest member school, and the first member school outside the Nottingham City boundary.\

The member schools are:

Bentinck Primary School
Berridge Primary School
Cantrell Primary School
Carrington Primary School
Dovecote Primary School
Fernwood Primary School
Forest Fields Primary School
Foxwood Academy
Glade Hill Primary School
Greenfields Community School
Haydn Primary School
Heathfield Primary School
Hempshill Hall Primary School
Henry Whipple Primary School
Hospital and Home Education and Learning Centre
Melbury Primary School
Mellers Primary School
Milford Academy
Oak Field School & Sports College
Old Basford Primary School
Rise Park Primary School
Robin Hood Primary School
Rufford Primary School
Seely Primary School
Snape Wood Primary School
Southglade Primary School
Southwold Primary School
Walter Halls Primary School
Welbeck Primary School
Westglade Primary School

The Nottingham Schools Trust has also been successful at bidding for additional funding to support school improvement and the success of many of the member schools is one of the reasons that Nottingham City now has the highest proportion of outstanding schools in the region.

The underlying aims of the Trust are to collaborate, participate and respond to the needs of children across the City of Nottingham. Every school, as a member, has a voice in the decision-making process, through the Trust’s open and transparent governance.

Moreover, the Trust values the diversity which exists in member schools and actively encourages each school joining the Trust
to maintain and further develop its own distinctive culture and identity.

Since Nottingham City Council gave the go ahead for the establishment of the Trust the number of new Academy conversions has fallen to zero, helping to protect the community status of many of our local schools. There’s also been a great deal of interest from other areas of the country where there is a desire to introduce a similar model – run by schools, for schools, in the interests of local children.

Councillor Sam Webster
Portfolio Holder for Business, Education and Skills
Nottingham City Council
Twitter: @cllrsamwebster

More information about Nottingham Schools Trust can be found here:
nottinghamschoolstrust.org.uk

Cate Woodward – Labour’s Local Candidate for Wollaton West

Cate Woodward, Labour Candidate for Wollaton West By Election
On March 8th people in Wollaton will be asked to vote for a new local Councillor. As someone who has lived in Wollaton for most of their life, I believe I can be a strong local voice that will protect our open spaces, continue to seek solutions to our traffic problems, provide a sensible approach to housing and ensure there are adequate facilities for young and elderly people.


Before 2013 we had 3 Conservative councillors- I never heard from them and they didn’t do much for people like me. When Steve Battlemuch was elected, I saw the improvements that an active councillor can bring. I want to work with Steve to continue to raise the issues that matter to you- including parking, speeding, new housing developments, protecting our parks and creating more opportunities for young people.

If elected, my five key pledges are:

• Work with local schools to support working parents by providing more after school places where they are needed

• Sort out problem parking on streets around Fernwood and Middleton schools and Wollaton Park, in consultation with residents

• Continue and expand the Wollaton Arts Festival as part of the cultural offer for Wollaton residents

• Fund improvements to local parks on Fernwood Crescent, Torvill Drive and Lambourne Drive, as well as maintaining the playground at Wollaton Park

• Review current provision for elderly people and provide extra support where it’s needed to combat loneliness and isolation

My experience working for a charity supporting people with long-term health conditions and having previously worked with a mental health trust and for the NHS has helped make me a great listener and good advocate for people.

As a longstanding Wollaton resident I have seen the difference a good local councillor can make and believe that if you elect me, I can help to make things better.

Best wishes
Cate Woodward
cate.woodward@nottinghamlabour.org.uk

The Lessons of Carillion and what it means for Nottingham

We have just witnessed the collapse of a major outsourcing firm, Carillion, leaving behind it a train of debtors, shareholders with major losses, unfinished projects, employees without jobs, a pensions deficit and a scandal of directors who had rewarded themselves before the firm went bust.

In regards to Nottingham City Council, Carillion was indirectly involved with us in several projects, including the management of a set of local schools, the services provided by LIFT and restoration work at Highfields Park. It must be stressed that work on these projects will continue as planned, and that there contingency plans in place to ensure that there are no disruptions.

In terms of the wider Nottingham economy, we do not know what the implications are but should there be any serious threats then we will work with Nottingham Jobs and the Growth Hub in conjunction with employees and businesses to provide practical support.

What this crisis has done, however, is bring into question the concept of outsourcing. Some will say that there is no role for the private sector in delivery of public services but this is clearly not the case. It has a vital role in tram construction, major projects such as the reconstruction of Broadmarsh car park and specialist work. Clearly, it is not as simple as public sector good/private sector bad.

However, I believe it shouldn’t be more than marginally involved in people-based services such as probation, specialist care or core services such as waste disposal and public transport; anywhere where long-term investment and commitment is required. The private sector, when operating public contracts, does not have the motivation to direct profits back into the services they provide nor has it the motivation in the long run to put the individuals and clients first who are often the most vulnerable.

Corillian is a microcosm of the problem. Once it moved away from its role as a constructor and attempted to manage public services, it struggled. Corillian is yet another example of a private business which has underestimated how complicated running the public sector is; they go into areas with insufficient experience and are expected to pay its shareholders and reward bonuses, both of which are promises they cannot fulfill but do so anyway at the expense of the stability of the firm. Often everyone loses – both public and private sector alike. And certainly everyone, apart from a few cynical board members, have lost in this case. It is for all these reasons that Nottingham has been so sceptical about outsourcing and either kept services in house or brought them back under public control, NCT being but one example.

One of the reasons some Conservative councils are so financially fragile, despite being better funded than their Labour counterparts, is that they have outsourced heavily. Indeed, one of the reasons we have been so financially resilient is that we keep so many services under council control. But before we get complacent, the above only works with good management and motivated staff. It only works if there is capacity to invest. And that is becoming a real problem at the moment with incessant cuts made by the Conservative government.

Privatisation is beginning to fall apart and if the Conservative government wants decent public services then it needs to do one thing: fund it properly. It can start by increasing corporation tax to the sensible level that it was under the last Labour Government.

 

Nottingham Labour delivers three school expansions to create 480 school places for Nottingham children by 2020

Three Nottingham City schools will expand by the end of 2019, creating 480 school places and 26 nursery places.

The three schools are:

  • Westbury Special School in Bilborough, which will have 60 additional primary and secondary places by August 2018, following investment of £4.75m
  • Glade Hill Primary School in Bestwood, which will have 210 additional primary places and 26 additional nursery places by September 2019, following investment of £1.8m
  • Middleton Primary School in Wollaton, which will have 210 additional primary places by December 2019, following investment of £4.1m

These expansions come under Nottingham Labour’s wider £41.9 million expansion plan to create thousands of extra school places across the city, and are the last three schools to be expanded as part of this programme.

This phase of expansions will create new teaching, teaching support and other in-school jobs along with additional employment and training opportunities during construction.

We are investing in our schools because we know there is a demand for places. Nottingham is growing economically, new homes are being built and more families are choosing to live and work here. Nottingham Labour is committed to providing a good school place, close to home for every child in Nottingham City.

Our careful planning and continued investment means that we have enough primary school places to meet the current and future demand. Last year we were able to offer every Nottingham child a school place, with nearly 95% of children being offered a place at their first or second-choice primary school – up 2% from the previous year.

We now want to build on this success and create 2,250 more secondary school places by 2022 and will be bidding for funding to do so.

Councillor Sam Webster
Portfolio Holder for Business, Education and Skills

Give Nottingham children a good start in life with books

Making a good start in education depends on lots of things. The welcome and environment that is provided in a school or nursery is vital, but so much more depends on the experiences that a child has had at home before they start school. Children who have been played with, talked with and read with are more likely to succeed that those who haven’t had lots of those experiences. That’s why in Nottingham, trying to ensure that every child lots of story books to share with adults and enjoy themselves is a priority for us and why working with the Dolly Parton Foundation is so important. We believe that giving children those early literacy skills that are gained from being regularly read to, right from birth, is one of the greatest gifts that we can give children. So we are aiming to get books to children on a regular basis.

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library, begun in Tennessee  and now operating all over the world, sends quality children’s books through the post to children from birth up until their 5th birthday for the cost of only £2.05 per book, and currently, through a variety of donations from businesses and individuals, as well as Big Lottery funding in 4 wards of the city, 4000 children have a book drop on their front doormat every month.

We aren’t satisfied with that and are keen that more of our city’s 21,000 under 5s get this opportunity. So in 2018 we are redoubling our efforts to enlarge this scheme, which has been proven to make children 28% more ready for school if they are on the scheme for at least 3 years.

I’m kicking off the year with a challenge to read stories to at least 2018 children and raise at least £2018. It would be great if you could support me with a donation, no matter how small. Our children deserve this chance.

www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/2018children

Cllr David Mellen
Portfolio Holder for Early Years and Early Education

Conservatives force Nottingham people to pay more money while receiving less

Since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, they have taken £230 million from Nottingham City Council and offered no answers or additional money to help with the growing pressure of care for the elderly. This leaves Nottingham residents paying more money but receiving less as underfunded council services are pushed to their tipping point.

Nottingham Labour has sought to protect frontline services from Conservative cuts as best it can. Over the past seven years we have prioritised key areas such as children’s centres, tackling crime and anti-social behaviour, keeping Nottingham as the UK’s cleanest city and protecting children and supporting vulnerable elderly people. This is becoming harder though as the government takes money away from Nottingham and the costs of care for the elderly rises. Despite lots of chances to offer a solution, the Conservative only have one answer; pass the bill onto local people.

This year the Conservatives will take another £9.5 million from Nottingham’s government support grant while the cost of social care budget in Nottingham is expected to rise by £10 million. Instead of the Conservative government taking responsibility to deal with this issue and offer help through fair local government funding, they are expecting Nottingham residents to plug the gap by paying more in their Council tax. If the Government does not offer local authorities funding for social care then it will come at the expense of other local servicers that we all use and rely on.

The government has shown consistently it can give local authorities money when they want. In February of 2017, the Conservatives gave the much more affluent Surrey County Council a sweetheart deal following concerns about its financial position. Similarly, though Nottingham has lost £71 per household more affluent neighbours such as Rutland have actually gained £44 per household. Finally, 80% of a £300 million transition grant that was made available went to more affluent southern authorities that are Conservative controlled.

If they are able to find money for these areas, they should be able to find money for areas like Nottingham where levels of deprivation are greater. Until the Government produces a settlement which is based on level of need, they are just forcing Nottingham people to pay for more while receiving less.

Nottingham’s small businesses lead the way – Councillor Sam Webster

A recent national report has placed Nottingham number one for small business growth in England. The report was compiled following a survey of 1200 small business owners. In Nottingham business confidence levels were high.

Community support is strong for our local, independent businesses and this has an impact on their chances of survival and success. The report said that 65% of Nottingham people shop locally. Good access to high speed internet was also highlighted as a factor, an area that the Labour-run City Council has supported and funded for many years.

Read the Invest in Nottingham article here: http://www.investinnottingham.com/nottingham-is-englands-top-city-for-small-business-growth,-report-says

Councillor Sam Webster

Autumn statement gives nothing for Nottingham’s schools or social care sector

An autumn statement that says nothing on schools or social care is not an autumn statement preparing Nottingham for the future but one that is ignoring the real problems cities like ours face.

The Chancellor has missed the chance to invest in the skills and potential of Nottingham’s young people and has shown no vision to deal with the rising level of demand in adult and child social care that is pushing the City Councils finances to the limit.

The Government’s education funding formula this summer would see Nottingham’s schools lose £22 million in real terms, which is over £500 per pupil. Taking this amount of money away from Nottingham’s schools will result in overcrowded classrooms that are not properly equipped, damaging the life chances of Nottingham’s young people. An autumn statement that was serious about preparing Britain for the future would be giving schools in Nottingham more money so that we can give our young people the skills need in the future job market.

In social care the government has revealed how unaware it is of the biggest challenge Britain is going to face. There is currently a £2 billion funding gap in social care and by not committing any extra funding in the Autumn Statement the Chancellor is making that gap worse. Demand is rising as we become and older population. In 2039, the number of people aged 75 and over will be 9.9 million. A Government preparing for the future should be making the proper funding of social care its number one priority.

Along with this, there is no relief for Council budgets. Since 2010, the Government has taken £200 million from Nottingham, which has resulted in Nottingham people paying more for fewer services. Seven years of cuts to councils like Nottingham has not helped pay down Britain’s debt either, as the Government is set to add an extra £90 billion worth of debt over the life of this Parliament. To add to this the Conservatives are damaging Britain’s economic success and growth is revised down.  

The Conservatives simply have no vision for the country or for Nottingham,  and are not prepared to face the economic challenges that we face.

 

Nottingham Labour delivers a “great transport system” says Tory Minister

The Tory Transport Secretary Chris Grayling visited Labour run Nottingham this week and praised the cities infrastructure as the example to follow for integrated transport. He commented on how Nottingham was ahead of other areas of the country, seeing how decades of Labour investment has created for Nottingham the kind of transport system that we want to see around the country.

Nottingham has been a Labour Council that’s known that investment in infrastructure is the right thing to do. It is good to see that the Conservatives and Government has finally caught up with the work Nottingham Labour has been doing for decades. In Nottingham, there is an effective and efficient integrated transport system for the city. The introduction of the Robin Hood payment scheme has allowed for cross-operator and cross-transport payments within Nottingham. This is complimented by more integrated service lines with Nottingham Train Station acting as a transport hub for trains, trams, bikes and, buses. There have also been improvements for cyclists around Nottingham with the introduction of specific cycle routes, better access to the city centre and the implementation of a city-wide bike hiring scheme.

The government’s policy to scrap the electrification of the Midlands Mainline is limiting what more we can do however. This increase in speed and the beneficial environmental impacts are vital for Nottingham’s future transport needs. The governments proposed bi-powered trains simply do not provide the same benefits as rail electrification, are far more expensive, and have rightly been criticised by the Council and Nottingham’s Labour MPs.

There are also been an unfair distribution of transport spending from the Government that is holding back Nottingham’s potential with London too often being prioritised over the East Midlands. London currently receives £2,592.68 per head for transport compared to the East Midlands which only receives £218.94 per head. The fact the Government chose to give a £30 billion cheque to London and the South East for Crossrail 2 instead of £700 million for Nottingham and the electrification of the Midlands Mainline is another example of how the Government has wrongly prioritised its transport spending.

If there is more money coming for Transport, Nottingham needs its fair share to continue the success we have had in building an exemplar transport system.