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Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Acadamy Infamy

Just a couple of weeks ago Hornet bought news of Merrick Cockell's 'slash and burn' panic strategy initiated to cope with the financial firestorm. Decent forward planning would have avoided losing rafts of essential front line people and services now being planned.

Hornet said then any top Manager worth their salt would have reduced spending on non essentials. Instead Dear Leader relentlessly pushed ahead, wasting resident's hard earned money on irrelevant schemes whose only objective was to enhance the ego's of Cllrs Moylan and Cockell. 

Boyo Moylan chose the £30 million extravaganza that is Exhibition Road; Cockell, not to be outdone, and desperately seeking his peerage, chose to destroy the perfectly good Holland Park School and rebuild at an initially budgeted £33 millions, but now far in excess of that.It is a project plagued with cost and construction over runs.

If that were not folly enough the new school flies in the face of Governmental and educationists' current wisdom on school size.But if he was going to ignore guidelines you might have thought Dear Leader would have added a couple of hundred more places; after all it would have been easy to do, and parents tell Miss Hornet they are desperate for places. Even Ofsted said there was nothing wrong with the existing school facilities.

A leading opponent of the scheme had this to tell Hornet....

For years we opposed the rebuilding plans and sale of the playground, but our alternative vision of enhancement of the facilities was suppressed by the Council Leadership under Merrick Cockell. We even thought we had the support of Boris Johnson:supposedly opposed to the sale of playing fields to greedy developers".

But no, Merrick Cockell wanted his "Peerage Passport" in Holland Park at a cost of tens of millions of pounds and the welfare of current pupils.

Our angry informant went on to say, 'we warned that big schools, like Holland Park with 1500 students, were things of the past out of step with modern day society. Redevelopment plans should have been scaled down and and a new school built in North Kensington:something parents have been demanding for over a decade.

Michael Gove himself constantly iterated that official Government policy is for 'small' not 'mega' schools, with all the societal problems 'mega' schools provoke. But of course, Cockell knew better... 

Now we hear of another scandalous misuse of our money the Leader is keen to keep very quiet.... Because Dear Leader is 'examination lite' , he and Britain's highest paid headmaster, Colin Hall overlooked the fact that Government education regulations have strict noise requirements for examinations.

Having spent millions of pounds of taxpayer's money on consultants, planning, and the operation of open warfare against residents opposed to the Trophy project, there is now nowhere for 1500 students to take their exams over the next several years ! The Town Hall has been mooted by those who know but this has been pronounced a 'no no'

So what has our brilliant education committee decided to do ? Yes, spend over £500,000 on a disused car park, more than a mile away from the school, to create temporary exam accommodation.....yes, a DISUSED CAR PARK! As the Daily Mail, and ex Mayor, Barry Phelps are fond of saying, "you could not make it up"

The principal culprit (noise) will also impact the teaching of 1500 students, day in and day out, at the school building site for the next four years. Concerned residents warned about the crass stupidity of knocking down and rebuilding a school, with 1500 students remaining on site, whilst teachers attempted to teach: a stupid education policy brought about by personal greed, petty ambition and vanity.

In the immediate term, unfortunate exam students are huddled into the temporary Luise Bloom Building with inadequate light and no toilet facilities. One can imagine the storms of protests when poor exam results come in.

The council option focuses on an existing Council lease with National Car Parks, for office space vacant for the last three years: another example of incompetent planning by Town Hall fat cats. Exam students will be a convenient scapegoat to bring back empty space into use, burning up tax payers money. NCP, the site owners, can be expected to drive a hard bargain. They are laughing as they pull Cockell over their barrel and all the way to their private equity owners. Oh what fun this CCT, kerching kerching.

There can be no confidence in the proposal to convert and rent the car park offices at a cost of £550k. It will escalate and the only beneficiaries will be hard nosed NCP.

In the current situation of "cockell up's, incompetence and arse covering" we need a Leadership (not Cockell) to take some commonsense decisions and negotiate a sensible short term "fix" in the interests of the students. 

There is a sensible solution which the Hornet offers.Just a few hundred yards from the school is the empty Commonwealth Institute. It is tranquil; it has large hallsand toilets and can be brought into service, in Dunkirk Spirit, to cope with the immediate needs of the next four years. Sir Stuart Lipton, the developer, and Charlotte Townsend,the freeholder, might welcome the opportunity for some rephrasing, and answer the call from the Archbishop of Canterbury, that the rich be prepared to make sacrifices too; after all, both Lipton and Townsend are Croesus rich and can afford the gesture to help their friend Cockell out of trouble.

Heads in Hornton Street need to roll starting with Cockell......

So once again Hornet throws down a challenge and a solution to Dear Leader for this embarrassing scenario. But don't hold your breath for an intelligent response-you will suffocate, for Dear Leader goes into a sulk if anyone gives him sound advice ! Either that, or demote them or cut off their SRA at the next re-shuffle!

£3.4 million in contingency is in the budget....£1.8 million has now gone. Watch out for a discreet 'restocking' of the Contingency Budget as more results of ill planning come to light.

You heard it here first.


  1. £550,000 for the temporary exam building? That would keep the EPICS day centre open for a year!

  2. Observer from Outer London5 January 2011 at 12:48

    And some still think the Tories are more financially competent than Labour! How can you rebuild a school without adequate provision for taking exams! You couldn't make it up


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