Letters to the Mercury - 6 May 2011

Vital facts on scholarship scheme

On Friday next week the much anticipated review of the scholarship scheme to the Stamford Endowed Schools comes before the children and young people scrutiny committee of Lincolnshire County Council.

As a member of that committee my aim is to ensure the following significant facts are considered:

l It is a statutory duty of the county council to provide appropriate secondary education for the academically able children in the Stamford area.

l There is not and never has been a grammar school in the Stamford area. This is a unique situation in Lincolnshire which requires a unique solution.

The county council had for a number of decades fulfilled its statutory duty by the legally permissible strategy of funding 11-plus scholarships at the Stamford Endowed Schools.

In 2006 the county council voted to end its statutory duty to these children

The county council voted to end the 50 11-plus scholarships per year in the Stamford area.

The last 24 scholarships were awarded in 2011.

The county council is now failing in its statutory duty to these children for whom there will be no grammar type education in the future.

There is a National Key Performance Indicator which measures the number of pupils in grammar schools who achieve 5 GCSE A or A* grades including English and Mathematics.

In 2010 that figure in Lincolnshire was 31 per cent. In the Stamford Endowed Schools of the 49 pupils (25 girls, 24 boys) in receipt of funding from Lincolnshire county council 30 (60 per cent) achieved this.

The English Baccalaureate which requires pupils to achieve five subjects (English, mathematics, a science, a foreign language and a humanity) was undertaken this year.

The Endowed Schools pass rate for this was 80 per cent, well in excess of that achieved in Lincolnshire grammar schools.

I would welcome any comments readers might have and hope people will let the county council know what they expect for the more able young of the Stamford area.

John Hicks

Ryhall Road, Stamford

Councillors’ allowances

I am old but will find the strength to write about those who are so desperate, even by local election standards, to put out leaflets promising to pass our money, £4,380 per annum, on to charity and work if elected as district councillors all for free ‘because they enjoy doing it’.

Town councillors give their time for free and district councillors, many of whom put in approximately 20 hours per week, do so for an allowance which the candidates in question were quite happy to take when they were previously members of the district council.

This does not take into account those who were, and continue to be, members of the Cabinet who are entitled to an additional £8,000 to £12,000 per annum.

Of course some of them, out in the sticks don’t even have to face up to the debates of election and so pick up their allowances merely for putting their names forward for nomination.

Geoff Winson

Past mayor of Stamford,

Hambleton Road, Stamford

AS a result of the economic situation severe cuts have been made to services within Lincolnshire.

From my own experience the Ministry of Justice has asked magistrates to accept a reduction in their subsistence allowance and a reduction in the fee per mile claimable as a travel expense in their cars, although the work they undertake is voluntary.

Are county councillors also going to accept a reduction in their travel allowance claim, claims for food allowances and a reduction in payments for council business?

Who pays for the civic dinners?

LINDA DOWSON,

Thyme Avenue, Bourne

Protecting our wildlife

THIS is a copy of a letter I have sent to my MP Alan Duncan.

I am highly alarmed to read that our coalition government has asked Vince Cable to recommend putting together a set of proposals to reduce red tape that may kill off valuable legislation that currently at least partly protects our wildlife.

Wildlife protection laws have been enacted only after years of struggle and careful thought, by much-admired and widely-supported organisations such as the RSPB.

These organisations are not whimsical fragments of sentimentalism, run by woolly-jumper-wearing and woolly-minded Luddites. They are scientifically-based groups who receive their moral and financial support from all sectors of society and their campaigns and beliefs are supported by soundly-based evidence and the need to protect not just the various animal, bird and plant species that feature in their campaigns and studies, but in fact the very human life that these other species in their various environmental ways underpin in symbiotic relationships.

I cannot believe that our government is short of things to do. Please make sure, through your important position as our MP, that our government does not meddle with, dilute or remove our crucial environmental raft of legislation. This red tape is not for cutting.

I am sending a copy of this letter to the Mercury, I hope they will become alert to the risks posed by Mr Cable’s reported current thinking. It is an especially important issue in this area given the RSPB’s extensive work in the area, for instance in the wonderful Fineshade Woods.

The re-emergence of the fantastic red kite for instance might not have happened if this bird could not be protected from the attacks and deliberate poisoning attempts of some.

I would welcome your personal assurance that you will do all in your power to protect environmental legislation concerned with the preservation of wildlife and the conservation of the English countryside of which Rutland is a fine example..

Sue Benjamins

Spring Hill, Tixover

Reasonable parking fees

I have availed myself of free parking at Stamford railway station on Saturdays and used the Cattle Market car park during the week.

The proposed charge for parking is very reasonable (Peterborough is £12 per day). If this means that the bays are marked all well and good as people normally seem to waste a lot of space not thinking of others.

John Cooper

Swift Way, Thurlby