I am sure that no-one would disagree that providing the best education for the next generation is central to giving children and young people the greatest chances in life. Where schools fall behind, then it is vital to properly resource those schools to help them achieve these goals.
York receives the 7th lowest level of funding of any authority in the country and yet achieves some of the best results, falling within the top 14%. I have been campaigning on the funding formula in Parliament, but in talking to schools and the local authority, it is clear that finances are so tight that we cannot see more money being taken out of the budget.
We therefore have to ask why the government are insisting on a programme of forced academisation of all our schools, costing £1.3bn, where the evidence repeatedly shows no overall improvement in educational outcomes. Surely it would be better to invest this money in strengthening support so that more children can succeed, addressing the growing problem of large class sizes and carrying out vital repairs to our school buildings.
The proposals also remove the statutory right of parents to have a future role in school governance. No-one could be more committed to their children’s education than parents. The local authority will also be hollowed out after decades of developing excellent support to our schools.
I took part in the recent debate in Parliament against forced academisation and will always represent parents and teachers, and ultimately children to ensure that politicians focus on what is best for the future of our city’s young people, not on yet more pointless re-organisations.
The NHS reorganisation has already reaped havoc on York, and led to the closure of Bootham Park Hospital, I won’t let another pointless, ideologically driven reorganisation do the same to our schools.
On 5 May, the election takes place for the role of Police and Crime Commissioner. Since 2010 the Conservatives have cut the police which has undermined the fight against crime. In the last year alone central government funding has fallen by £1.72 million in North Yorkshire. Cutting police funding by this amount has an impact on frontline policing and I am concerned that North Yorkshire has seen a reduction of 139 police officers since 2010. This is 9% of the workforce and we have lost 6 PCSOs on top of this.
Crime is not falling in North Yorkshire. It is changing. Sexual offences are far more prevalent than previously thought and violent crimes such as knife crime are on the rise. Cyber-crime is also on the increase as criminals target identity theft to raid bank accounts and commit serious fraud. It is important that the police have the resources to tackle these crimes and help us to take the right precautions to protect ourselves.
It is estimated there were 5.1million online fraud incidents and 2.5million cybercrime offences in the 12 months up until May 2015. Training for police in tackling on line crime have been cut because of the lack of Home Office funding. The overall crime rate this summer is set to double, when the cyber-crime figures are included in the Crime Survey for England and Wales. I want to ensure that the victims of all crimes are listened to.
This is why I want the police to be properly funded. They do a difficult and sometimes dangerous job and they need the resources to do this. Crime fell by 43% under Labour and the chance of being a victim of crime was at the lowest since records began. Labour proved to be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime. Now cuts to police and to services is putting people at risk. I’m sure people will think hard before they vote for the new Police and Crime Commissioner.