Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Students are right to occupy

The students who occupied Birmingham’s Council chamber to protest about education cuts and tuition fees should be applauded. They certainly have my full support. In fact, if I had not been recovering from illness I would have been there with them.

These young people are taking a stand in defence of the rights of all people to a high quality education. They are inspiring many more to stand up for public services in this country. And they are rightly objecting to the fact that the bankers and speculators who caused this crisis are getting off scot free, while millions of working people have to pay a heavy price.

Birmingham City Council is not responsible for education funding. But the City Council should be deeply concerned about the way the cuts will worsen social inequality and reduce our ability to equip our citizens with the skills necessary for today’s global economy.

As a result of the actions of young people in recent weeks, this is now a great national controversy. And I believe that our City Council should play its part in this debate.

The City Council meets on Tuesday 7 December. I am writing today to the leaders of Birmingham’s political parties calling upon them to make time for a debate on the issue of education cuts and student funding.


LETTER TO PARTY GROUP LEADERS

The issue of education cuts and student funding is now great national controversy; one that has led to a protest taking place inside our council chamber. This government’s policy has important implications for our city. It will impact upon our future economic development, and have a profound effect on social mobility and inequality.

In my view, the Council should seek to reflect these national issues, and to debate their impact on our city. I am therefore writing to ask that the leaders of all parties on Birmingham City Council jointly agree to make time for a debate on education cuts and student funding at Tuesday’s full council meeting.