16/10/2011 The Politics Show South West


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The waste was in Cornwall, as a judge changes the incineration


plants. And will free schools provide more opportunity were more


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1492 seconds


Hello and welcome to the Politics Hello and welcome to the Politics


Show in the South West. This week has seen a dramatic development in


the row over how to deal with Cornwall's waste crisis. On


Thursday a High Court Judge made a decision which means the


incinerator which is already being built in St Dennis no longer has


planning permission. The judge ruled that the Local Government


Secretary and his Planning Inspector have failed to properly


consider the impact of the plans on two nearby wildlife habitats. Later


we will be talking about the lessons councillors might learn


from the judge's decision and what could happen next. But first this


report. Every time you think you've reached


the end of the story of a new incinerator for Cornwall there


comes a new twist. In 2006 a fresh chapter begins as the French firm


Sita is brought in to take away the rubbish. It wants to create a huge


energy from waste plant in St Dennis but despite planners backing


it but the county council, as it was then, says no.


Cheers from the campaign bus. But no sooner have they got their


voices back then Sita appeals and a public inquiry begins. The


protesters know they are in for a long haul. The final decision is


referred to the Secretary of State. Enter leader of Cornwall Council


Alec Robertson who writes to ministers saying it is the least


worst option. Remember he opposed it originally. Eric Pickles agrees


the benefits outweigh the costs. And the incinerator is back on and


heads are back in hands. Until that is they take on the council in the


high court and win. The end? We're not so sure. While the village


celebrates, the question is, what next? Cornwall Council, Sita and


ministers will no doubt be examining the judge's words


carefully. He said the government had not properly considered whether


an environmental assessment had to be carried out before signing off


the scheme. Initial work on an access road has


stopped but doing nothing is not an option though, space in landfill is


running out and every month's delay costs �1 million in landfill tax


and haulage costs. Sita still believes it is the best


solution for Cornwall but as you might have come to expect by now


they have got their opponents. There are cheaper ways and more


environmentally sustainable ways to deal with the waste. I think the


council will get round the table and use some of the talent to come


up with a long-term solution. The government is trying reform


planning laws so local people have more influence and big


infrastructure projects get built here. The courts have made the


decisions and they've backed the villagers for now.


I am joined by Dr Colin Trier, a waste management specialist. Should


people be surprised? Yes, I think it is a surprising decision. Even


if the section 28 that is being used has never been used


successfully in this way so it is not an outcome that one can rely on


to stand necessarily. Stephen Gilbert is calling


councillors back round the table. How realistic is that? Leaving


aside the contractual issues, which are big, it is completely passable,


and I think that if the people of Cornwall were encouraged to work


with the council grant the company to take on the challenge of going


in a different direction, it will only work if everyone works


together. But these are in almost - - but these are her gigantic


obstacles. This is an alternative but people will have to work for it.


I do not think that this objection is a one off. The government must


be concerned that there is such a strong opinion against what is


quite a primitive technology. And they're all -- and there are


alternatives. Find you. -- thank you.


A small independent Catholic school in Cornwall has become the first of


its kind in the country to be awarded free school status by the


Government. St Michael's Catholic Secondary in Truro hopes to expand


as a result and move to a bigger building in Camborne. Like


academies, free schools are funded directly by central government and


they are independent of local authority control. The Government


claims they will give parents more choice and provide competition


which drives standards up. But critics say they will take money


and pupils from existing schools, increase social division and lead


to the break-up of the state system. It's hometime prayers at St


Michael's Catholic Secondary school in Truro, and thanks is being given


for the news this week of the green light in its bid for free school


status. Critics are questioning the need, the impact on other schools


and why taxpayers should be funding it, but these aren't concerns


shared by some parents collecting their children. I think it is a


superb idea and it will mean my children have an opportunity to go


with other children that is ideal. It is really something that has


been run on a shoestring and is now opened two more children so I am


pleased about that. Calling itself an independent


school with a difference, St Michael's currently educates around


30 11-16 year olds, around half of which are here because of faith.


It's been running in this old Methodist chapel since 1998 and is


funded via donations from parents, supporters, educational trusts and


fundraising. The new free school will get cash per pupil directly


from the Government, and the headteacher is expecting some


controversy. I think it challenges us to look at ourselves and forces


us to raise our game and do things better. We are a small school but


we are trying to do great things in the area and we are offering that


to anyone who wants to take part. I think, in time, people may come up


with negative things to begin with but I think they will accept us.


Outside direct local authority control free schools have the


freedom to choose teaching hours, curriculum, holidays and how they


spend their money, but St Michael's won't be going it totally alone.


think there is a myth that a free school is completely free and does


it -- does its own thing. But where the local authority comes in is


that we have to provide transport and meals and other things and when


it comes to admissions all of the parents who wish their parents - or


her children to go to this school will have to apply to the local


authority. -- children to go to this school will have to apply to


the local authority. We have to follow the code and it must be non-


selective. Faith schools may only recruit up to 50 % of their pupils


once they are oversubscribed on a phased basis.


The new school has approval to eventually expand to 300 pupils,


that's 60 a year in class sizes of 20. So theTruro chapel will no


longer be big enough and a move is on the cards to the old county


grammar school in the centre of Camborne, metres from the train


station and with a catchment of some of Cornwall's most deprived


areas. This certainly seems to tick a Government box for free schools


to offer improvement in social mobility but not everyone's


convinced. We have got good schools already so it is not about driving


up standards and I do not think that most parents here would want


to send their children to a Catholic school. This is about the


Government's hobby horse about free schools but they will not deliver


better standards here. CLIP JUDE Those behind the successful bid say


they've already had to prove And they say the relatively small


numbers they're aiming at pose no threat to three nearby secondaries.


This is not a new school. It exists in a different form elsewhere.


Money will be taken out of local authority schools and given to a


school that is not fully set up in the spirit of the free schools


situation. The earmarked building currently houses a children's


centre and it's hoped money raised from the council selling it back to


the Government will fund a better purpose built replacement. But some


doubts are being raised about quick timescales involved. There's a


statutory consultation to be held and capital funding details to be


finalised. It's probably fair to say some faith is still needed to


get Cornwall's first free school fully up and running by next


September. I am joined by three politicians who are geographically


far flung. We have a Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, an MP from


West Devon, and a Labour peer and former Schools Minister in


Westminster. Andrew George, you voted against the Academy Bill and


a lot of your criticism seems to be similar to that made by the


teaching unions. Do you still stand by that? Yes. I was concerned from


a rural perspective that in a place like a Cornwall the introduction of


competition into the education market place, particularly in the


kind of places I was born and brought up, if you set up free


schools in communities that presently struggle to keep one


village school, it will undermine the fundamental structure of what


should be integrated and enabled by the local authority, not controlled


by local authority. Do you taken the view that free schools cream


off the more affluent and more or academically able students from


other schools? This free school in Cornwall is composed in one of the


most deprived areas in the county and that might be the worst place


to put one. If you were establishing them in areas where


there were just one school you could be potentially damaging them.


Everyone would want to ensure that we get the best education for all


of the children. My concern was that, yes, some of these schools


are could well be established in places where the most deprived


cannot get to. There are feelings in the system and communities where


some extra assistance is required so I think we should put in the


kind of initiative that... On the front page of your manifesto, of


course. Geoffrey Cox, do you accept this view that new three schools


could well undermine existing schools in the South West? No, I do


not see that. I c three schools as a driver of increasing standards,


giving people a choice. I have a rural constituency and people come


to me and say they do not have a choice and they have nowhere to go.


There is one secondary school. There must be some strategic


oversight, but offering real choice and diversity, and I see no reason


why they should have a damaging impact on existing schools.


night, just to clarify Labour's position. Ed Balls said this was a


socially divisive policy end Andy Burnham said he would not -- and


Andy Burnham said he would not approve three schools. The noises


from the Shadow Cabinet recently seemed to think that three schools


might be fine as long as they do their job properly. I suspect


Michael Gove were not disagree with that. In some communities, three


schools may be successful air and not damage neighbouring schools. --


free schools. It would be wrong for a government to try to close them


down and that case. What government and oppositions have to do is look


at the systemic effect and when you look at the three other countries


that have tried this, United States, Sweden and Chile, you have had


successful schools and failing schools. They have had no systemic


standards and I think Andrew is right. Competition is not really a


reality in these sorts of areas. It is a luxury to think that we can


afford extra places, surplus places, just for these I have got --


ideological reasons. This feels like a policy dreamt up here in


London and trying to make it work in regions like the South West. It


might look -- work in urban areas but not then roll ones. Labour is


giving a grudging acceptance? rural ones. It is not sensible for


an incoming government to close so accept -- successful schools. If


the schools are working then you should keep them open. But one


thing that is really missing in all of this is that it is far and for


parents to set up three schools but if they go wrong they have got no


one to go to -- three schools. They have no one to go to accept the


second day at -- Secretary of State. Jeffrey, this is a serious issue.


We could end up with most of the schools with a local authority


control. What we want are more good schools. Good schools are producing


good standards. If they are good schools then that is a good thing


and it will drive up standards in the existing schools. I think the


blanket uniformity of the days when the monolithic state provision was


the only solution are long gone. Labour were trying this idea or


similar ideas under the previous government and we are taking it


further forward. Let's try it. What people are wanting his innovation,


imagination, that is what we want to see. -- wanting his imagination.


You can have that with the previous academies. The local authority


consistently failed to help a school, I saw this in my time as a


minister, we needed a better ministers with better leadership.


More intervention, more intervention, more government


control. What we want to see our independent, three schools, where


they pass the necessary tests of confidence. If they are good


schools, what is wrong with more good schools? The higher risk is


that you will build lots of extra schools on top of the ones that are


needed with no accountability locally and no guarantee of success


just because it is a free school, and that does a mean it will work.


Some work and some gold. I think it is worth saying that free schools


will be part of a monolithic centralised state. They will be


funded, monitored and regulated by the young people's learning Agency.


Independent schools are currently monitored. They are able to


flourish using their own initiative and innovation. That is what we


want to see. Parents want to see choice and higher standards. This


will be the engine of that. We have so migrate independent schools in


this country and we have some small failing ones as well. All of the


secrets of success of a good school system anywhere in the world is


that you have a good amount of autonomy and they worked together.


You also have collaboration. My worry about three schools in some


of these communities is that they will not work with the neighbouring


communities and they will expel pupils who are not getting on and


others will have to deal with the problems. That is fantasy. The


children are completely -- complaining loudly about government


intervention. Constantly interfering in what teachers can do.


It is one of the most delegated school systems anywhere in the


world, here in England. I think we will have to leave it there. Thank


That is almost all from the South West bar the news that the region


is now officially home to Westminster's top dog. Wilberforce,


who belongs to Neil Parish, the Conservative MP for Tiverton and


Honiton, has won the annual Parliamentary Dog of the Year


Competition. It is great for him, isn't it? He won and it didn't have


much to do with me. He is a great dog with huge character. I am


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