Last week, we were told the astonishing news that more than 100 schools in England have been ordered to fully or partly close because they are fitted with Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete that could suddenly collapse. The Government has known about this issue for years but has failed to take action.
These school closures reinforce a general feeling here in England that nothing is really working. Public services are at breaking point, buildings are crumbling, and trains are being cancelled. To make matters worse, there seems to be a lack of urgency from the Government.
I’ve campaigned for better schools for our students for some time now, particularly here in Tameside. As many of you will know, Russell Scott Primary School in Denton was the subject of a botched rebuild from the construction giant Carillion and was left with a number of serious structural defects. After many years of campaigning alongside the exceptional headteacher of Russell Scott, Steve Marsland, the school was finally added to the Government’s list for additional emergency funding. The rebuilding work hasn’t officially begun yet, but we are finally seeing some long-overdue progress.
I have found this process arduous and incredibly frustrating. I can only imagine how it must feel for Russell Scott staff and pupils. I want students in Tameside to be given the very best opportunities in life, and that means safe, secure, and enriching learning environments.
I’m sure you’ve seen or heard Labour’s commitment to ‘Build A Better Britain’. What that means is not just fixing the problems we currently face, but actively working to improve lives. Take the NHS as a prime example. Yes, the immediate problems need to be fixed; huge backlogs in elective care, staff shortages and more. But alongside this work, we also need to be future-proofing the NHS itself, making sure that it is totally prepared to meet the challenges of the time. That means better-utilising technology, embedding care in the community and giving the NHS the staff it needs to thrive. This proactive approach should be replicated across all our public services.
This week has demonstrated what happens when a Government fails to look to the future. People in Tameside are fed up with sticking-plaster solutions. We need a Government that is committed to long-term, positive change.