join donate discuss

Greens demand lessons learned by council over school and early years closures as further Labour cuts loom large  

Green councillors are demanding Brighton & Hove City Council learns lessons from the recent “insincere” consultations carried out ahead of Labour’s decision to close two schools and a much-loved nursery in the city.

Parents and staff at St Peter’s Community Primary and Nursery School, St Bartholomew’s CE Primary School, and Bright Start nursery have been heavily critical not only of Labour’s decision to close the schools and nurseries, but also what they argue has been a completely insufficient level of consultation.

Concerns have also been raised about an apparent disregard for accompanying equality statements published as part of reports into each closure.

In respect to Bright Start, it even emerged recently that promises made by Labour councillors to parents, guaranteeing a proper community consultation, were entirely misleading. The administration never planned to hold any kind of widespread consultation – robbing many parents and guardians of a voice in the process.

Green councillors have consistently opposed each of the closures and recently asked the council to pause the closure of Bright Start and St Bartholomew’s to allow time for officers to explore potentially merging the two, rather than just closing the school and moving part of the nursery to The Tarner Centre. This proposal was supported by parents, but voted down by Labour councillors.

As a result, Green councillors have tabled a motion to be discussed at the next Full Council meeting on 1 February which calls for a report into how the local authority can better protect services which impact children and young adults in future. 

In the motion – submitted by Cllr Sue Shanks and seconded by Cllr Chloë Goldsmith – the Greens also demand a minimum consultation period of two months ahead of any future proposals to close or move early years childcare, schools, or child and youth provision.

They have also asked the council to identify how it can better communication more effectively with children, young people, and their parents or guardians when budget cuts affecting their services are being considered, and to establish a clear framework with local educators for deciding which schools or nurseries close if and when more cuts are considered.

With Labour’s forthcoming budget likely to include cuts of more than £33 million and with local residents and services largely left in the dark as to where the funding axe will fall, Green councillors believe this is a timely intervention.

Cllr Goldsmith, who sits on the council’s Children, Families, and Schools committee for the Greens, said: “Now Labour councillors have voted to push ahead with these unpopular plans – plans opposed by parents and staff – we must make sure any future closures include a proper consultation period rather than the insincere ones we have seen recently. 

“Huge cuts are coming in Labour’s budget and the likelihood is every council service will be affected in some way.

“It is clear that those most impacted by school closures feel they have not been listened to. As more and more people are impacted by future cuts, as a council we have a responsibility to residents to make sure lessons are learned and that nobody again feels like their voice has not been heard, or their concerns not been listened to.”

ENDS