Thursday, 9 July 2015

Full Council Report - Turing House Questions to Cabinet

Cllr Gareth Elliott
During Tuesday’s Council meeting Whitton’s Conservative Councillors, Gareth Elliott and Grant Healy, asked important questions regarding Turing House School.
Cllr Elliott asked that if the school was sited in Whitton would the Council oppose its 80/20 admission policy – as this would unfairly discriminate against students from Whitton?
The Cabinet member for education, Cllr Paul Hodgins, said that the answer to the question was yes, and that the Council already had. And that if the site was to be in Whitton the Council would put the resident’s views to the school and work with them to find a balance to make sure there would be a strong student representation from the local area. Turing House had agreed to review the policy and the Council would be advocating a revision.
Cllr Elliott then asked if the school came to Whitton would the Council fully engage with the local community to identify the travel and traffic issues that the building of Turing House School on the proposed site in Whitton would create? And that plans to mitigate these issues would become publicly available as soon as possible?
Cllr Hodgins replied, that, although, there had been no announcement as to the siting of the school he knew that local Councillors were engaged with residents, and the Council would work together with them to make sure options were made available, openly discussed, and consulted on.
Cllr Grant Healy
Cllr Healy asked that if the school opened in Whitton would the Cabinet member open discussions with the school, with a view to allowing local residents the use of its amenities and grounds?
Cllr Hodgins answered by saying that Turing House would be willing to do that.
[The Head Master of Turing House School later contacted Cllr Elliott and promised that community use of the school would form part of its proposal.]
In a riposte to Heathfield Lib Dem Cllr John Combs’ facetious reference to “far flung Whitton” (in a question that showed more concern for parents in Teddington than those in Whitton) Cllr Elliott queried whether

the Lib Dems “seem to be falling back into their natural state of talking down areas,” particularly, “Whitton, our wonderful town, with a village feel, which the Liberal Democrats have previously termed as ‘deprived.’”
Cllr Hodgins reaffirmed the Council’s commitment to the town, “Whitton is an incredibly important part of our borough… and will continue to be.”
At one point during the meeting reference was made to the Lib Dems’ closure of Heathfield Library. Cllr Liz Jaeger was seen shaking her head in denial – which was surprising as she was Cabinet member responsible for libraries when planning permission was given to build on the site!