End battle over Croft school, says council leader
COUNCIL leader Rod Bluh has urged Croft School campaigners to move on with their lives after it emerged that the council has spent more than £23,750 answering hundreds of public questions on the saga.
The council has dealt with approximately 1,330 recorded questions, including Freedom Of Information requests and public questions at meetings, together with various informal questions, of which the council has not kept detailed records.
They estimate that officers have spent 950 hours dealing with these questions in the last two years, which has impacted on other work. And the council says questions are still coming in about the school, off Marlborough Lane, which opened on September 3.
Coun Bluh (Con, Old Town ) said he did not deny anybody the right to challenge a decision.
And he said he had never said that no mistakes had been made over Croft.
But he feels the unprecedented level of questioning had been disproportionate.
“From my personal experience with the way this whole thing has gone, it’s well over the top,” he said. “Many questions have been repeatedly asked.
“Answers to questions have been given and any reply to virtually any question comes back with further questions.
“Sometimes there has been an unwillingness of people to accept the legitimacy of the answers given, which has been very difficult for members and officers to deal with because it’s effectively an attack on their individual integrity.
“Enough is enough. I would appeal to them to move on. “The decision has been made, the school has been built, the school is now open. What value or purpose is there in continuing it?”
Croft campaigner, Kareen Boyd, of Hesketh Crescent, said: “A confident and effective leader would have chosen to have an open and transparent public consultation on the Croft in 2009.
“It would have been more cost effective to do so. And residents would not have spent thousands of hours and £15,000 on expert advice to understand and assess Swindon Council evidence which has yet to add up.
“When we asked Old Town and Lawn ward councillors, Bawden, Mattock and Foley, questions (i.e, to do their jobs) in September 2010 they told us to DIY.
“As such we had to ask questions about council process as well as the Croft proposal itself.
“As these were either ignored, or the responses were in council speak or didn’t answer the question, further questions had to be asked.
“Does Coun Bluh’s count include these and the ridiculous FoIs the council issued against themselves?
“If Coun Bluh has concerns about costs he must speak to councillors Bawden, Mattock and Foley, as residents had no option but to follow their instructions.
“As leader, Coun Bluh chose not to be open and transparent and the cost and method of his governance is now evident.
“As a consequence, systemic and repeated patterns of behaviour have become apparent, linking a number of projects in Swindon.”
Swindon Council has instigated an independent review into the school’s opening, which will include a public meeting at the Marriott Hotel, off Marlborough Lane, at 6pm on Wednesday, September 26.