New special needs school announced for Twickenham

A new Special Educational Needs school in Twickenham will open, it has been announced today in the latest round of Free School applications. 

The Maaz will be a 72-place special school for children aged four to 19. It will be for children with an Education, Health and Care Plan or Statement of Special Educational Needs, as a result of speech, language and communication or social, emotional and mental health issues, including autism.

When full, the school will have 28 pupils at the primary level, 35 at the secondary level and nine pupils aged 16–19. The school has been proposed and will be run by the Auriga Academy Trust, formed by the borough’s two existing, excellent special schools, Clarendon and Strathmore.

It is expected that, subject to the Council’s formal approval process, the school will open on two Council-owned sites in Twickenham.

Unfortunately, the application for Franklin House in Teddington, a new primary school proposed by the Stamp Education Trust, was unsuccessful, as was their application for a primary in Surbiton. The Department for Education however praised their application, saying that the school’s vision, proposed curriculum and the skills and expertise of the team was a considerable strength. It is anticipated that the Trust will review the feedback and consider reapplying in the next round of applications, expected to be this summer.

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53rd Mayor of borough announced

The 53rd Mayor of Richmond upon Thames will be Cllr Lisa Blakemore, it was announced today. (12th April)

Cllr Blakemore was first elected as a Councillor for North Richmond in 2010. Since then she was Deputy Mayor between 2012-13, held the title of Tenants Champion (between 2010-15) and since 2015 she has been the Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Health.

She has lived in the borough for ten years. She has always been passionate about improving people’s lives. She trained as a teacher and educational psychologist. Working in the industry for a number of years. Following this, Lisa specialised in autism and published a book in 2001 on the subject. After becoming a councillor she also became involved in a number of local charities and organisations – including Richmond Parish Lands as a Trustee and as a former Governor at Christ’s School.

Cllr Blakemore has one daughter and two grand-daughters – one of which attends a local primary school. 

Cllr Blakemore will be formally announced as Mayor for 2017/18 at the Annual Council Meeting on the 16 May 2017. At the meeting she will also announce her Deputy and chosen charity.

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Richmond secures a further £4.4m to put towards school places investment

Richmond Council has welcomed the allocation from Government which will go some way to helping the authority pay for the school expansion programme in the borough.

The Department for Education has allocated the money to support the provision of new primary school places in areas where they are needed.

The further Council investment needed to deliver the long term primary schools expansion programme is estimated at £10–15m.

Cllr Paul Hodgins, Richmond Council Cabinet Member for Schools, said:

 “I am delighted with the additional funding we have secured from the Government. Richmond upon Thames has the best primary schools in the country, and therefore demand is very high. Even with rising demand, we have significantly increased the percentage of parents receiving their first preference of school over the last seven years. We have already added 24.5 forms of Reception entry, which equates to over 5,100 permanent primary school places in total.

“We have put in place a school places strategy which, including free schools, will add a new secondary, new special schools and four or five more forms of primary entry over the next 10 years. This money is an important contribution towards paying for that programme, and we will continue to work with the Government to provide even more over time to help ease the strain that is being placed on our local authority finances.”

Sadiq Khan is breaking his promises and letting our city down

Sadiq Khan campaign website
Sadiq Khan's campaign website now carries a disclaimer

Conservatives in City Hall have questioned Sadiq Khan on promises he has broken since becoming Mayor of London. He has answered these questions by putting a disclaimer on his campaign website:

“Some of the information on this page may be out of date and does not reflect campaign pledges or Mayoral policy.”

Sadiq Khan won’t tell you what promises are “out of date”. But we can:

  • On fares, he promised that we “won’t pay a penny more” in 2020 than we do now, but already the price for some commuters has increased by almost 2%.  
  • On strikes, he promised “to make sure there are zero days of strikes”, but just a few months later a 24-hour tube strike took place, causing chaos for millions of Londoners.  
  • On housing, he promised “to ensure that 50,000 homes are built in the capital each year”, but now he says “I have not been obsessed with aggregate numbers”.  
  • On the environment, he promised he would plant two million trees in four years, but so far no trees have been planted.

Sadiq Khan is breaking his promises and letting our city down.

Government needs to come clean on the real impact of Heathrow expansion

The Leaders of four London and Thames Valley councils have accused the government of failing to come clean on the real impact of Heathrow expansion.

In written evidence to the Transport Select Committee, Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead councils, said the government’s draft National Policy Statement (NPS) ignores all the fundamental concerns about expanding Heathrow.

In the evidence the councils highlight a series of concerns including:

  • Increase in noise: Increase in flights and new flight paths over quiet parts of the South East. With noise respite being halved.
  • Road access: NPS doesn’t include a credible plan for how the government will ensure that there isn’t an increase in road journeys. Or indeed the cost of the infrastructure required to support the airport (and who would pay for it)
  • Increased levels of pollution: Heathrow already contributes to illegal pollution levels which would increase with expansion. The Government has not yet produced lawful air quality plans.
  • More night flights: Night flights would continue, and the Government's proposed 6.5 hour ban doesn't cover the whole night.
  • Increased detrimental health impacts: Expanding Heathrow would damage thousands of people’s health - particularly children and those with existing conditions. Noise annoyance is directly related to lost healthy years and premature deaths.  Hundreds of thousands of people are exposed to noise around Heathrow and this contrasts with a much lower number around Gatwick.
  • Increased traffic levels: Expansion would generate extra road passenger journeys a year and double the airport’s existing freight operation. The NPS only ‘strives’ to meet its public pledge around road journeys.
  • Communities will be destroyed: Around 1,000 homes will be destroyed as Heathrow expands. There is also no planned infrastructure e.g. community facilities to support an expanded airport.

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