Leeds councillors divided over how to improve child services

Leeds Civic Hall

Leeds Civic Hall

By Mike Berriman

Labour and Conservative councillors clashed today over how to avoid a repeat of this year’s fiasco over school places.

Earlier this year, nearly 90 families failed to secure one of their five preferred primary school places in North Leeds.

At a Leeds City Council meeting at the Civic Hall, Conservative councillor Allan Lamb put forward a white paper motion calling on the Director of Children’s Services to review the current system and “ensure that the authority is effectively anticipating demand, so there is no repeat of this year’s problems in Leeds.”

Wetherby councillor Alan Lamb

Wetherby councillor Alan Lamb

Cllr Lamb said: “Choosing the best school for your children is one of the most important decision a parent makes.”

Cllr Lamb’s motion was supported by fellow conservative councillor Dan Cohen who said: “Why could we not find the 90 places earlier? It is unforgivable.”

During Cllr Cohen’s address to council, Labour councillors could be heard shouting “your government”.

In response to Cllr Lamb’s motion, Labour councillor and Executive Member for Children and Families Lucinda Yeadon put forward a revised motion which read “Council recognises the complexity of the basic need issue and believes it is exacerbated by Government legislation removing the ability of local authorities to open new community schools, separating local authorities from the process of opening free schools and failing to provide funding for the acquisition of land and buildings to be used for educational purposes.”

In 2010 the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition introduced free schools, schools that are state-funded but not controlled by local authorities.

When voting on the two proposed motions, the Labour dominated council voted overwhelmingly in favour of the motion of Cllr Yeadon.

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