Diary of a Sutton Councillor

January 2019 Council Meeting Part 2

Tories fail to support Lib Dem motion to end schools and SEND underfunding

Parties unite on Conservative call to promote Hindu and Buddhist new year

After a short adjournment of the meeting to allow the crowds there for the Parking Strategy to disperse, the business of the council recommenced.

Lib Dems call for fair funding for Sutton’s schools

Cllr Jenny Batt, Vice-chair of the People Committee, had set out a motion condemning the underfunding of schools and pupils with Special Educational Needs as a result of the Government’s new schools funding formula. It had been expected that this was a motion the Conservative and Independent councillors would willingly support.

Tory Leader in public row with officers

However before the debate could get underway we were treated to the spectacle of the Tory Leader, Tim Crowley, publicly arguing with the Council’s Monitoring Officer over an amendment they had submitted that had been disallowed. This was clearly the continuation of an argument that had taken place earlier as the result of the Conservative Leader’s refusal to accept the Monitoring Officer’s ruling.

The Monitoring Officer calmly referred to the Council’s Constitution, to remind Cllrs Crowley that an amendment cannot be accepted if rather than adding to a motion, it seeks to negate it. She reiterated her advice that the purpose of debates at council were to argue areas of disagreement which then could be resolved between the parties if acceptable. Cllr Crowley continued to push, pointing out that their area of disagreement was a point of fact, which the officer again highlighted could be resolved in the debate, but not via an amendment that negated the whole motion.

The Conservative Leader’s response to not getting his way was petulant, advising the Mayor that his group would therefore not be participating in the debate.

Finally, to the Schools Funding debate

Cllr Batt proposed the motion explaining how, like boroughs across the UK, Sutton was seeing increasing numbers of students, including students with severe or complex disabilities requiring significant extra support, and yet Government spending per pupil was now lower than it was in 2010. Cllr Ed Joyce, previously a teacher in a Sutton secondary school, explained the toll this underfunding was taking on teachers, with many leaving the profession, and recruitment at an all time low. We heard how teachers unions were striking in protest at the impacts of the new formula, which would hinder their ability to deliver the excellent education all students deserve.

In response Cllr Neil Garratt broke ranks and sought to copy his recent backer, Nick Mattey, by using diversionary tactics. He chose to talk about school buildings and planning, rather than schools funding, repeating well-rehearsed claims that building was delayed due to prioritising the Belmont site over Rosehill. This was in deliberate denial of the planning principles applicable to MOL land that meant this was the only way the council could have proceeded. Had we followed the Tories’ preferred option of delivering Rosehill first, we would have faced the embarrassment of the planning application being refused, along with a significant delay to getting any school built. Cllr Mattey’s case for the Belmont school being too small for purpose was also somewhat trite given the school build is almost complete and the Harris Academy preparing to move in later this year.

In her response to the debate Cllr Jenny Batt saw off Cllr Garratt’s accusations of wasting money on the new school build by highlighting that the funding was managed by the Department for Education, not the council. Further embarrassment ensued for the Tories as they failed to support the condemnation of underfunding of the borough’s schools and abstained from the vote, despite their own MP Paul Scully having signed a letter alongside other MPs calling on the Secretary of State for Education to recognise the crisis in High Needs Funding for children with SEND.

Councillor Nandha’s motion brings religious harmony

After an acrimonious meeting, Conservative Councillor Param Nandha managed to achieve a harmonious conclusion to the meeting with his motion asking the council to recognise the Hindu/Singala New Year that falls on April 14th.

A minor amendment to the motion adding a commitment to help promote key festivals of the other main religions had been amicably agreed between Cllrs Dombey and Nandha prior to the meeting.

However even this short debate was not without its bizarre turn.

Independent Councillor Nick Mattey had clearly not seen the agreed amendment set out on the table before him. As a result the leader of the Sutton Independent Group stood up to make the same point about extending the recognition to other religious groups.

However the religions Cllr Mattey specifically cited were Druidism and Satanism.

There were stunned looks of disbelief from all sides of the room as this proposal dropped like a stone.

Like guests tactfully ignoring the antics of an embarrassing relative at a family celebration, the motion was unanimously agreed without further reference to Cllr Mattey’s contribution.




February 21, 2019 - Posted by | Committee Meeting | , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Tories fail to support Lib Dem motion to end schools and SEND underfunding. Parties unite on Conservative call to promote Hindu and Buddhist new year. After a short adjournment of the meeting to allow the crowds there for the Parking Strategy to disperse, the business of the council recommenced. For the full story click here […]

    Pingback by January 2019 Council Meeting Part 2 | Sunita Gordon and Marian James | February 23, 2019 | Reply

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