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Conservatives

“Unacceptable” how schools engaged in political party messaging says MP Henry Smith

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Crawley MP Henry Smith has said that schools that used publicly funded resources to send out party political messages of how parents should vote is “unacceptable”.

Following comments Mr Smith made to the national press he said:

“It’s unacceptable for school’s to use publicly funded resources to send out party political messages of how parents should vote.

Robust debate on the future of education is an important and emotive subject but pretending to be impartial and then promoting a political message written by the unions using taxpayer funding on official school letterheads is both against the law and misleading. Especially when Crawley school’s are set to receive one of the highest increases in funding nationally.”

But what is it all about?

Under the Local Government Act any council run school including the head teacher is not allowed to use their resources to promote any party thus swaying peoples opinion in the run up to a vote.

This act is in place during what is called ‘purdah’ and is the time between when an election is announced and the actual polling day.

Prime Minister Theresa May called the general election on the 18th April this year and the very next day some schools started to send out messages including Crawleys St Wilfrids who tweeted:

But Mr Smiths comments were directed to 3,000 schools across 14 counties that also engaged with their parents.

 

Crawley Lib Dem Chair Marko Scepanovic responded to Mr Smiths comments:

“Schools have a right and a duty to protect their students, and informing parents of a lack of resources or potential damage by existing government policy falls under that. Any parent would want to know if their children’s education is being impacted by a shortage of funds.

This has been an ongoing debate within Crawley since long before the General Election was called.”

“It seems Henry is more interested in complaining about a school’s right to free speech rather than dealing with the actual problem of school funding. As a former pupil of St Wilfrids, I trust that the school does only what is in their students best interests.”

“It’s a sad state of affairs when a local MP decides to attack a local schools reputation for speaking out against a lack of funding. Perhaps Henry should instead focus his anger on his own party, who have given away £1bn to the DUP. This is money which could have helped with school funding.”

Mr Smith also pointed out in an article in the Daily Mail that Crawley schools would pick up an extra £5.7million under a funding shake-up.

Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council said:

“Henry smith has been a member of the education team for the last two years over which period he has repeatedly claimed to stand by our schools without any evidence of improvement to their funding.

Schools aren’t wrong to point out the difficulties they are facing and he would better placed trying to resolve those funding issues than complaining about teachers standing by their kids.”

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Conservatives

Jeremy Hunt makes a surprise visit to Crawley

The Health Secretary made a rare visit to show his support to the Conservatives ahead of the local elections.

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The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care made a surprise visit to Crawley yesterday to show his support to Crawley MP Henry Smith and all the Conservative candidates up for the local elections next week.

In the middle of a downpour and showing his full support for the local party he was welcomed by Henry Smith and his team.

CN24 caught up with the Health Secretary to find out more about his visit:

Jeremy Hunt, welcome to Crawley. What brings you here today?

I’m helping support Henry Smith for the local elections campaign. He’s a fantastic local MP and I want to help conservatives get control of the council here.

Do you think it’s important that we have a senior minister come to local towns?

Yes, we want to show the people of Crawley that we’re right behind Henry and his team down here and when it comes to elections we’re not ministers. We all muck in – we’re Conservatives and we want to help Conservative candidates.

The Health Secretary even helped with the photo shoot.

We can’t interview you without asking about the letter you sent last week about trying to get Tories to give views on the NHS. What’s been the reaction to that letter?

Theresa May has said that she recognises that we need to move the NHS onto a long-term and more secure financial settlement – and that we don’t want a lurch from budget to budget having to top up the NHS and social care systems.

So we’re going through a process and I want to ask the views of colleagues like Henry Smith and other colleagues because I know that the NHS is a number one issue as far as their constituents are concerned so I want to talk to MPs about what their views are and feed those into the Prime Minister and Chancellor before they make their final decision.

When you’re doing this canvassing and somebody opens the door and starts asking questions about local issues like their bin collections or planning applications, what’s it like as a cabinet minister having to answer those questions?

Not as difficult as you might think because we have to answer them on the doorsteps in our own constituencies.

We don’t always know the details but what we do is we want to show people that it’s a great tradition of democracy.

Even in this terrible rain, it doesn’t matter who you are – Theresa May goes out canvassing every month in their constituency and we all go out and I think that’s what voters want to see, they want to see politicians who are working hard for their vote.

A drenched Health Secretary braved the elements for photos with CN24.

A big local issue that matters for this area is social care. How ready are you for your department to take that on?

We are absolutely committed to sorting out the problems in social care which are very severe at the moment. We totally understand the pressures that County Councils are under. But, we’ve got to be honest as a country and in 10 years time we’re going to have a million more over 75s. Are we going to put our heads in the sand and pretend that’s not happening or are we going to do something and make sure as conservatives that every single older person is treated with dignity and respect.

Does that involve more money? Does that involve asking people to pay more themselves?

Sure it involves more money. But it’s not just about money, it’s also about standards of care, it’s about joining up the NHS and social care system. It’s about fundamentally changing our model of care so that we focus on prevention as much as cure and feel better at looking after people in their own homes when they’re vulnerable. Then they won’t need to go to A&E in the middle of the night and that will be much better for them but it’ll also save the NHS and social care system a lot of money.

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