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‘Axe county council’ – Deanes protesters
12:40pm Wednesday 11th December 2013 in Echo News
FURIOUS campaigners are calling for Essex County Council to be dissolved after plans to shut the Deanes School got the go-ahead.
Members of the Save Deanes Action Group are calling on the Government to strip the council of its powers and assets and transform borough councils into unitary councils. This would mean the boroughs would be responsible for their own education, highways and social services.
The decision to close the school, in Daws Heath Road, Thundersley, was made last month – the end of a six-month saga which saw two consultation periods, six public meetings, numerous council meetings and debates.
All 75 county councillors at full council meeting today are due to vote on two motions to reverse the closure decision.
In a letter to County Hall chief executive Joanna Killian, Linda Allport-Hodge, from the campaign group said: “This issue is far greater and wider than that relating to the school closure decision. This is all about an organisation that seems to think it’s OK to dictate and make decisions at the whim of its Cabinet members.
“How then do local people stamp their feet and force this organisation to be accountable for its actions? The answer is to request the Government to dissolve the authority that has grown substantially too arrogant and massively abuses the powers invested in them by the people, to the detriment of the people.
“This authority is a disgrace and we want the organisation dissolved, its assets stripped and the funding utilised to finance the re-organisation of its current service provision to new local unitary authorities within Essex.”
The group has also put in a formal complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.
Ms Killian replied: “The decision about the future of the Deanes School raises a number of very difficult issues. The council, in general, and the cabinet, in particular, has sought to ensure that this has been conducted in an open and transparent way.
“As part of the process, there have been two periods of consultation and throughout the process officers and members have met extensively with interested parties. Members of the public and interested parties were invited to address a cabinet meeting, so they could make their points about the future of the Deanes in person.
“The council and the cabinet have listened extremely carefully to everything that has been said. For example, when the forecasting methodology was criticised, we asked for it to be externally reviewed. The information which went to the cabinet was the best and most accurate possible and the information was presented in an honest and transparent way.
“If people remain dissatisfied, they are able to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman. As you are probably aware, the school have asked for this matter to be considered by an independent schools adjudicator appointed by the Secretary of State for Education. The adjudicator will now consider all the papers and make the final decision on the council's proposal to close the Deanes.”
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