Twickenham and Richmond LibDems have put out a leaflet claiming hundreds of children in the borough have been left without a secondary school place this September.
Cllr Paul Hodgins, Cabinet Member for Schools, responded, “Firstly, let me deal with the facts. No one has been left without a secondary school place for September. In fact, there are still spare places. The Liberal Democrat leadership knows this.
The LibDems have said the Council has made no plans for any new secondary schools. Yet the LibDems themselves have spoken in Council supporting our project with Richmond College to rebuild the College and create a new secondary school for 2017.
Unlike the LibDems, we support free schools. In other words, we support the concept of local parents starting a new school because that is the option they want for their children. Any responsible Council has to account for free schools in their planning.
I know that Turing House supporters are disappointed the school is not opening in 2014. That was a Government decision after their negotiations on a site fell through at a late stage, and they made a mistake in advising the group to send out offers knowing that could happen. Turing House have asked us to work with them on finding a site to enable the school to open in September 2015. We have committed to do so. The LibDems know this, because we have put it in our manifesto.
We have kept our word on all our school promises during this term, including sixth forms, primary places, and supporting a new Catholic school. People may have had differing views on aspects of our plan, and I understand that, but we kept the promises we made. Residents now have our word on this. If they vote for their local Conservative candidates, we will help make Turing House happen, and we will help deliver a new school with the College.
Secondly, let me deal with the lack of integrity behind the LibDem claim. Their claim is not true. The LibDems made it up. They have knowingly lied to residents. They have twisted a disappointing situation for many supporters of Turing House, whom LibDem leader Stephen Knight ridiculed as being fantasists, and they are willing to cause undue worry to parents in a selfish bid to save at least some of their seats.
Twickenham and Richmond’s LibDems are demoralised and worried about this election. They are at odds with their colleagues in Kingston, and with their MPs in the coalition government. That is absolutely no excuse. Lying in desperation to save your seats is akin to a fraud on the electorate. Every LibDem candidate and every LibDem activist who delivered that leaflet should be ashamed to have been part of it. So should Vince Cable, and so should the Richmond Park candidate. I call on Stephen Knight to apologise to residents.
This is Richmond. There must be integrity in our politics.
Our local Conservative group has run the Council well for the last four years. We have made our promises for the next four. More primary and secondary school places. Freezing Council Tax for at least another two years. Supporting the vulnerable. An even greener, cleaner borough. Better and safer transport for all. We will keep those promises. If you largely agree with them, please vote for us. If not, we respect your differing views. But in this election, this LibDem group does not deserve your vote.”