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Students, unions and parents unite to save Pent Valley School
Eric Segal, East Kent Socialist Party
A coach packed with campaigners determined to save Pent Valley school in Kent left Cheriton to lobby Kent County Council in Maidstone.
Cheriton is a working class area in Folkestone and the Tory controlled council is responsible for the rundown of our services in social care, public health, libraries and in particular the threat to close Pent Valley school. We demand the school remains open, fully funded and under local authority control.
The Swale Trust group of academies is currently overseeing the management and administration of Pent Valley but the school remains under local authority control. Councillors now want to close it and turn it into a 'free school'.
We say that councillors, whatever the colour of their rosettes, are elected to represent us and provide and protect our services. We do not want to hear them say that 'there will be difficult decisions to make.'
South East Kent Trades Union Council unanimously agreed to campaign to stop the threatened closure of Pent Valley. The campaign is strengthened by the decisions of the local government committees of both Unison and Unite trade unions to demand that councils implement legal no-cuts budgets, using the millions held in reserves, together with prudent borrowing, to stave off cuts and closures.
Unison and Unite have organised a further lobby of Kent Council's education cabinet meeting on 17 February.
Right to protest
This trade union and community led campaign has united local people against the closure threat. However the executive principle of the Swale Trust, Jon Whitcombe, said that he would not authorise students to go to the lobby. So much for democracy and free speech Jon!
However students were on the lobby in what amounts to a school student strike. We will defend school students from any disciplinary action and are calling on trade unionists and community campaigners to show similar courage and audacity and join us on our next lobby.
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