Now and Then Magazine

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Latest Edition: April 2019

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Peter Cook

PETER COOK
the editor

So the chickens have finally come home to roost. Is anyone really surprised by the news that Middlesbrough schools are now so over subscribed that close on 100 pupils currently cannot get a secondary school place in the town. You don’t need me to tell you that the parents involved are somewhat underwhelmed at the news.
With the May elections on the horizon, little wonder this story is causing panic in the corridors of power. Damage limitation is now the order of the day, scapegoats must be found, self preservation vital, sandbags please in front of the council offices, tin hats for everyone sergeant.
Already Andrea Williams, the director of education, has been wheeled out to desperately table the excuses; the schools are full she tells incensed parents, because of unprecedented demand including an increase in international new arrivals. Additionally, she tells us, the problem is also driven by both Nunthorpe and Stokesley schools accepting fewer pupils from Middlesbrough.
Cue Helen Watson, the council’s executive director of children’s services, who cites birth rate increase for the crisis.
You will note that one of the major, if not the major problem, for all this is the council’s relentless drive to build more and more houses. Not a bit of wonder Nunthorpe and Stokesley schools are bursting at the seams when you factor in the new housing developments that are taking place there, and more are planned. When the present national government’s push for new house building was announced, did some enlightened Middlesbrough councillor have the courage to puncture the heady thought bubble of all that extra rateable value, by pointing out that, say 500 new homes equates to about the same number of additional children requiring education.
And perhaps that courageous councillor also pointed out that, as more and more houses are built, sooner than later the town’s schools will be unable to cope with such an influx, especially when the aforementioned student immigration element is added to the equation. Perhaps this far-seeing councillor might also have pointed out that in these new houses are people who own cars, and at times these families fall sick, and need medical attention. So perhaps it might be better if additional schools, health centres, and better roads, are established before the planners start increasing the population. Think horses before carts and departments that understand joined-up writing.
There has been talk of a new school at Middlehaven, ‘talk’ being the operative word, but no action. And, still on the subject of Middlehaven, if, as is so often pointed out, this is going to be a vibrant new area of the town, with its new College, Ski-run and Premier Division Football Stadium and goodness knows what else, where is the concatenation of executive homes which will be needed to accommodate the Glitterati in such egregious surroundings? Just asking.

Peter Cook – Editor-in-Chief

Email: editornowandthen@gmail.com