Thursday, March 29, 2007

Labour launches its vision for Darlington

Entitled "Ambition for Darlington - Ambitious for You" Labour's manifesto for May's local elections was launched today at a meeting of candidates and Party workers. We were addressed by Cllr. John Williams and MP Alan Milburn.

Alan pointed out how Darlington had changed since there has been a Labour Council and Labour Government - under the Tories unemployment was 9% and now it's 3%. Double-digit inflation and interest rates are a thing of the past. He contrasted Labour's ambitious document with the Tories, with its absence of ambition and a lack of policies to take Darlington forward.

So the document can be viewed on the internet, I've created a unique site for the document - its Darlington's Labour Vision.


ian holme said...

Hi Nick,
Just had quick scan of Labours "Vision" and would make a couple of initial points,

Firstly it is good to see a comitment to securing investment for Hurworth school (though not mentioning how this will be secured)

However, one thread coninues to run through your document and policies in general.
That is the completely urban-centric nature of your plans.
I saw no mention of the rural communities at all.
No mention of setting up comm/p.ships across all wards to ensure that all communities get fair representation.
Even the youth srevice is to be split into four quadrants, of what benefit is that to the outlaying communities when all the effort goes in to the urban area?
What are you doing to help hurworth kids facilities?

We dont even have a decent play area in hurworth.

The document talks of being inclusive, but surely that applies equally to what you would call the more affluent areas (though i can assure you that there are pockets of deprivation in every ward)

You talk of the redevelopment of Linden Court, not mentioning that this will see a huge reduction in the amount of sheletered accommodation in hurworth

I am afraid that other than warm words, there is nothing for the rural communities in your vision.
You aspire to improving schools and education, yet have no plans to back this up. Will you be calling on the assistance of the towns most succesful schools to aid those failing their children?

It would be churlish not to recognise the success your council has had in securing finance for redevelopment of many schools in the Borough.
It is however time that you invested in success (as in hurworth school) rather than continuing failure.

The document certainly appears to confirm the notion that the local labour party has given up on the rural areas, and is simply concentrating all its efforts on its historical heartlands.

Sorry, got a bit carried away with my "couple of points"!! but i think you get the message

Mark Burton said...

Am I really that short?

miketually said...

There are lots of positive points in the Vision document and I'm in agreement with pretty much everything there.

However, as Ian has pointed out already, there's sometimes a lack of detail about how things will be achieved. I'm all in favour of getting every secondary school in the town up to 50% achieving 5 A*-C grades at GCSE, but given that it's not happened so far what will be done differently after May?

(Mark, is that you to Nick's right and just behind Elaine, in the stripy jumper?)

Mark Burton said...

Yes that's 'little' old me trying my best to hide.

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes...

Hurworth, Carmel, Hummersknott and Longfield are already achieving over 50% GCSEs at A* - C. Hurworth and Carmel in the 90%+ and 80%+ range resopectively. The Village or Haughton as it then was and Branksome are in the 40% range and Eastbourne 19%.

Mike your right it's not clear how Labour will achieve 50%. I suspect they will do it by denying parental choice which they are doing at present and putting children into schools miles from their homes.

The Liberal Democrats policy on education is clear. We want children to have an excellent education in all schools, irrespective of where they live. The Council's School Improvement Service will be asked to intervene early in schools facing difficulties and map a course for recovery and to achieve excellence. We will also encourage good teaching practices to be spread throughout the Borough's schools. The Council will no longer wait for Ofsted to say schools are failing before any action is taken.

We want children to be taught in smaller classes because children learn betted there is a greater chance for individual attention to be given to those children who are struggling in smaller classes.

By pursuing and achieving excellence in all schools parents will have a greater choice of school for their children and have confidence that they are receiving a first class education.

At present Mike you must agree,that a large number of parents do not have this choice in secondary education for their children and evidence over the last week in relation to admissions indicates that they do not have confidence in the education system in Darlington either. The secondary education system in Darlington is grossly unfair. Do you want this to continue. I don't.

As a town and as a country we need our young people to reach their full potential in order for this town and the country to compete in a highly competative world. Only an excellent education can unlock the potential which young people have.

Parents rightly demand excellence for their children. Central Government also demand excellence in education.

We are selling our young people and their parents short by not providing an excellent education for their children.

Ian White, said...

What still puzzles me is why The 2 top men from Hurworth Comp are travelling all around the world giveing talks on how to achieve excelence in schools and yet DBC for some strange reason dont take advantage of these peoples knowledge and expertees in education.
Perhaps its still sore grapes from the victorious days of SHARE!

Long live people power!!!!

Liar said...

Sorry about the spelling again!

Darlington Councillor said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Firstly, IanH, Labour's manifesto (much I guess like the LibDems) is a document for the whole Borough. Of course rural areas can have particular needs distinct from those of the urban area in some policy areas, but these can be worked through at a different date (promoting buses is an example of this).

Certainly Labour has not discrimibated between the rural and urban, Labour and Opposition held parts of the Borough in what we have done. I could quote chapter and verse on transport policy to support that statement, from road safety schemes to 20mph zones to road maintenance schemes. So for example easily the most expensive scheme under Let's Get Cracking has been in Salutation Road, in a Tory-held ward.

Mike's right that the document is short on detail - my few points on tranport would have stretched to several pages if I had provided supporting evidence as to exactly how are aims are to be achieved, should we be successful in May. As always, it's about striking a difficult balance between providing enough information to give residents an idea how we will approach problems after May, whilst at the same time ensuring the document isn't 100 pages long.

For the record, improving GCSE attainment will be achieved by precisely the opposite approach to the one Alan fears. Personalised learning, for example, if it is to implemented successfully, requires a high level of parental input. Our 14-19 trust will amongst other things encourage the sharing of best practice throughout our family of schools.

As I understand it, we will also be taking forward significant pieces of work around leadership and development in our schools. Clearly schools are more than just buildings and the staff that teach and the leaders that lead are vital.

We need more not less parental engagement, and this was a key feature of the recent Education Act. I know that Chris McEwan is very keen for greater parental involvement.

Ian - unless the Cabinet are suffering from a collective bout of haemorrhoids, I don't think anyone has "sore grapes" :) I know that Chris McEwan has regular contact with both Dean and Eammon since he became Lead Member, and values their input. More importantly, Hurworth are part of the 14-19 Trust, which will be one of the key drivers to improving attainment in Darlington.

There's been some nonsense in the press about the Council (and elsewhere, Ian...)not acknowledging Hurworth's recent successes. In fact, within 5 minutes of learning of the Journal award, Chris rang Dean and Eammon, who were at Dusseldorf Airport, to say well done. I understand there's going to be a piece in the always eagerly-awaited Town Crier.

Hope that covers most points.

miketually said...

(Slightly off-topic, but I just wanted to say that I liked the Labour leaflet we had through our door recently. The map of the ward highlighting what had been done was a nice touch.)

ian holme said...

I would love to see a map showing everything that Labour has done in Hurworth..............

Darlington Councillor said...

Ian - I've posted a reply to the last point on the "Out and about" post.