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Bow West Councillor and leader of Tower Hamlets Labour group Josh Peck on the injustices of primary school places, bedroom tax and car free developments

PUBLISHED: 13:46 24 April 2013

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Last week we heard that many children in east London didn’t get into their first choice of primary school. In total, 16% didn’t get their choice, meaning that they will have to travel away from their local school, often to a different one from siblings and friends.

It’s a problem across London but in Tower Hamlets we’re not doing enough to fix it. Extra classrooms have been added here and there but the truth is we need more schools – both primary and secondary – to cope with our growing population. That means prioritising council land for new schools. Instead, Mayor Rahman has chosen to use a big site in Limehouse to build an unnecessary new town hall, while at the same time selling off many other sites.

It’s a strange priority when children need schools.

Last week councillors debated another strange decision of the mayor’s. Recently he started allowing families moving into new three-bedroom homes in ‘car-free developments’ to keep their cars, but has said those in one or two-bedrooms homes can’t do the same. He says this is because big families need cars, whereas small families don’t. Many disagree and ask why should only some families have a car to access job opportunities outside London? Or what about a small family with a child with a disability?

Lots of families have to turn down the offer of a new home because they need a car. The sting in the tail of this is that, with the Government’s ‘bedroom tax’ forcing families to consider downsizing, the Mayor’s discriminatory policy could mean the choice between a family having to move into a smaller home, lose their car and not be able to get to work, or staying put and having their housing benefit cut. Mayor Rahman’s car tax is making the bedroom tax even more punitive.

I stand down as leader of the Labour group in a couple of weeks – but I’ll stay on as a backbench councillor and won’t stop fighting the injustices that keep coming out of Tower Hamlets town hall.


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