Observer Comment: Academy schools, county councillors must give green light

WHEN the plans for two new academy schools were first mooted in November 2008, it soon became apparent that the road ahead would not be a smooth one.

There was opposition in the schools destined to make way – particularly at Filsham Valley where both staff and pupils staged protests – questions over funding and concerns raised by the teachers’ unions.

But few would have imagined that one of the schools would still be shrouded in uncertainty months before it is due to open.

Thankfully the good news is that it seems likely that the St Leonards Academy will be bankrolled by the county council, and eventually the town will boast two new state-of-the-art schools by rebuilding Hilllcrest and completely refurbishing Filsham Valley.

Should East Sussex County Council ride to the rescue, we can start looking forward to a major step forward for the town. But the Government has let us down.

Amber Rudd is right to say the council’s capital budget comes from Westminster, but the sponsors of the scheme and the people of this town were told they would have £40 million from central coffers. Yes the council has made up the shortfall, but a large chunk of that is money that could have gone towards other projects to improve local schools.

The Tories and Labour can point fingers as much as they want, but the blame game is not going to help the pupil forced to use dated sports facilities, or the teacher trying to inspire our kids in a run-down classroom.

The county councillors must give us the green light – if they don’t the challenges facing this town will get even steeper.

THANKS to a council blunder, angry residents have been lumbered with an ugly mobile phone mast in their back yard.

Developers were refused planning permission in 2006 but the council, for some unknown reason, waited weeks before sending the phone company its decision.

What a ridiculous state of affairs.

The authority had 56 days to tell Hutchison 3G of the refusal so why wait until the last minute just before a Bank Holiday weekend and why not send such an important document by registered post?

Hutchison 3G says it never received the letter and the council has been left red-faced, saying it has no way of proving its case.

Residents have every right to be furious as they’re now stuck with a 12ft-high eyesore by their homes.

YOU’VE heard of Batman, Superman and Spiderman – well Hastings has its own crime-fighting hero: The Belly Buster.

OK, Chloe Dent may have long since turned her back on fighting international crime, but she is doing a heroic job helping local women to shed the pounds by taking up bellydancing.

Chloe says she turned her back on her dream job to teach bellydancing after falling in love with it six years ago.

Good on you, Chloe! Keep those tassles twirling.