October 03, 2009

BNP governors bid outvoted after row

The BNP has failed to get two more of its councillors on school governing bodies.

Members of Stoke-on-Trent City Council have now ordered an urgent review of procedures after the far-right party broke unwritten rules banning last-minute governor nominations. The call comes weeks after the NASUWT teaching union threatened the council with court action unless it removed BNP governors from six city schools.

BNP group leader Councillor Alby Walker waited until part-way through this week's full council meeting to nominate Councillor Steve Batkin for a post at Longton High School, in Meir, and Councillor John Burgess for a vacancy at St Augustine's Primary School, also in Meir.

Governor nominations are supposed to be submitted in writing at least a week before the meeting as part of a cross-party agreement. This is to prevent political groups gaining automatic appointments to posts which are not contested. But Labour leader Councillor Mike Barnes thwarted the BNP by announcing his party also had two nominations – for the same posts.

The move sparked a heated debate about the implications of allowing BNP councillors to make decisions affecting the day-to-day running of schools.

Attempting to secure his position, Mr Batkin said: "I attended a Mitchell High School governors' meeting where we were told there are now over 104 languages spoken in Stoke-on-Trent schools. This has caused chaos, cost a vast amount of money and it needs someone with the backbone to tackle it."

But Conservative and Independent Alliance member Councillor Roger Ibbs said: "I think if anyone was doubtful about who to support then Councillor Batkin's intervention really made my mind up. Anyone who brings that up as a reason to be appointed should not be appointed. I have lots of political differences with people in this chamber, but my basic disagreement with you is that you do not believe in equality. I will never vote for the BNP to join any governing body."

The Labour benches also rounded on Mr Batkin. Councillor Joy Garner said: "I would not want a BNP councillor on any of the schools I sit on."

Councillor Mohammed Pervez said: "It's very important, as a council, to consider what message we send out to communities regarding young children to ensure they grow up in an environment of tolerance."

Councillor Mick Bell, of the City Independents, said: "I think councillor Batkin has made an excellent case for not having BNP governors."

Both BNP nominations were heavily defeated at the vote, as only the group's nine members backed them.

Council leader Ross Irving said the dispute showed the need for a review of council procedures to prevent a repeat of the bitter argument. He said: "We are sending out an appalling message both to people who might consider themselves eligible for these posts and to the schools themselves."

He added: "We need to send this to the constitutional review group and get a report back on a better way to proceed with these nominations in future."

The Sentinel


ex-fascist said...

How does one "tackle" the fact that there are 104 languages spoken in a borough's schools? By excluding children from school? By removing them from the borough? Once again the true agenda of the BNP is revealed through its own words.

Anonymous said...

I think people are starting to realize that the nazzers are totally thick. So electing them to anything is counterproductive, to put it mildly.