[IMC-UK-Features] Feature Proposal Teachers 'Tent City' Occupation Defends Wembley Sports Ground From Privatisation
euan2000 at onetel.com
euan2000 at onetel.com
Thu Jul 17 00:43:49 PDT 2008
Quoting maqui <maqui at syndicate.org.uk>:
> I propose the feature below for the UK, London, Education and Free
> Spaces middle columns. There are quite a few report on the wire about
> this,, some of which contain substantial research about the story, and
> which I have used for the Content as "Background Story"
> I haven't got time now to add all the links and html, but i intend to
> do it tomorrow at some point and publish it by the evening if there are
> no objections.
> Teachers 'Tent City' Occupation Defends Wembley Sports Ground From
> (or something shorter if someone proposes an alternative title :-)
> The Wembley Tent City Occupation located on Wembley Park Sports Ground,
> is opposed to the plans for a privatised Wembley Park Academy school to
> be built on one of the few remaining green areas accessible to the
> local community for sports training. The campaign is in keeping with
> the wave of resistance to new school academies up and down the country.
> The Wembley Ark Academy is an American and British educational charity
> sponsored and run by a group of millionaire merchant bankers and
> currency speculators, led by french/swiss and multimillionaire Arpad
> Busson. The Ark Academy is estimated to cost around £30 million of
> public money yet it would be privately run.
> The re-establisment of the 'Tent City' started on the 30th of June,
> following last year's previous permanent occupation of the site that
> lasted six months, and which saw tree houses being built. The site was
> then only vacated when the protestors won a year?s extension on the
> lease. Wembley teachers and their local supporters argue that after
> more than two years of campaigning to keep the community sports grounds
> out of the private sector, they are not going to give in now without a
> fight, as the building of the planned Wembley Academy is part of
> Brent's council drive to privatise schools, turning education into a
> profit making business instead of a basic human right beyond the
> 'logic' of the market.
> On Wedneday 16th, teachers and local people continued the occupation
> despite renewed threats of forced eviction and possible arrests. They
> took permanent positions on the roofs of the building next to the
> sports grounds, with at least one protestor locking on to the main
> mast. An earlier eviction had been set for Tuesday 15th, when around 50
> local people turned up to show support. It is now expected that the
> eviction will happen soon and 'by surprise' in the the early morning,
> and so they call for urgent solidarity and for people to go up there
> and show their support.
> BACKGROUND STORY:
> The Wembley Tent City Occupation, located on Wembley Park Sports Ground
> next to Wembley-Park tube station (Metropolitan Line), is opposed to
> the Wembley Park Academy school which Brent Council is yet to give full
> approval to. The campaign is in keeping with the wave of resistance to
> new school academies up and down the country. The Wembley Ark Academy
> is an American and British educational charity sponsored and run by a
> group of millionaire merchant bankers and currency speculators, led by
> french/swiss and multimillionaire Arpad Busson. Arpad "Arki" Busson is
> senior partner of EIM fund management company (with assets reported as
> ranging from £5 billion to £10 billion). The Ark Academy is estimated
> to cost around £30 million of public money yet would be privately run.
> Unlike PFI in the NHS, the taxpayer puts up virtually all of the
> initial capital cost. It is not clear whether Busson himself declares
> non domicile tax eile status, and so, pays no tax in the UK himself.
> The occupation is also in defence of a recreation ground with 2
> football pitches and the Sunflower childrens nursery as well as other
> small businesses also on the site. The sports ground, in the shadow of
> the arch of the new Wembley stadium, is used by several hundred
> different youngsters and teenagers from the local area who are
> comprised of a wide range of ethnic diversity, some of whom come from
> the local Chalk-Hill estate, who pay as little as £1 per training
> session. Though Brent Council have guranteed that access to play on the
> football pitches will remain for the next two years, ARK have so far
> not made any commitment to either keep the football pitches nor retain
> the local young community's affordable access to this local recreation
> On 03 June 2008 Brent Town Council approved the child charity Ark
> proposal to begin the initial construction of temporary housing for 200
> school pupils in huts as a forerunner for the new Wembley Academy
> School. That planning meeting approved this scheme, seemingly unaware
> of the fact that once planning approval is granted for the entire
> school academy project, it's construction on the site over the next two
> years will put children in these temporary classrooms in danger with
> cranes overhanging the portacabins and temporary accommodation.
> Ark and the wider push for private investors involvement in state
> "Creating Academies involves the transfer of publicly funded assets to
> the control of an unaccountable sponsoring body, set up as a company
> limited by guarantee. Sponsors receive the entire school budget
> directly from the Government. Where state schools are turned into
> Academies, this effectively means that multi millionaires gain control
> of a multi million pound asset, whose building and running costs are
> funded overwhelmingly by us the taxpayers, and they cough up a
> comparative pittance." (source: NUT's document 'ACADEMIES: LOOKING
> BEYOND THE SPIN').
> Ark is set to run 12 Academy schools throughout the UK, six of which
> will be opened by September 2008. One reason the Wembley Academy
> opening date was moved forward from September 2009 to 2008 was because
> local opposition against the Academy and the privatisation of UK
> education has been so massive in Brent, Ark thought that advancing the
> school start date would crush the resistance.
> Connections are being made with the Battersea Crane Disaster Group, the
> Construction Safety Campaign and the Pimlico school teachers who are
> also fighting the privatisation of their school by venture capitalist,
> and Tory party funder, John Nash and his company Sovereign Capital.
> Other criticisms about Academies:
> Source: NUT's document 'ACADEMIES: LOOKING BEYOND THE SPIN':
> The Government has said that Academies, ?can combine a greater
> flexibility over the curriculum with the sponsorship and expertise of
> religious, private or voluntary sector contributors...? The curriculum
> in Academies is therefore likely to be susceptible to being influenced
> by the ethos of the sponsoring bodies.
> The facility to give priority to children of a particular faith
> additionally means that it is possible for Academies to refuse places
> to local pupils.
> Academies, as independent schools, can operate outside the School
> Teachers? Pay and Conditions Document. It is the responsibility of the
> Academy to agree levels of pay and conditions of service with its
> employees and to employ appropriate staff numbers. Whilst teachers in
> Academies which replace existing schools have their conditions
> protected on transfer, newly appointed teachers are often placed on
> separate contracts that involve longer working hours and less
> favourable working conditions. Having teachers working on different
> contracts can lead to a divided, two-tier workforce.
> Elected councillors have no responsibility for academies, making it
> difficult for parents to make representations or seek advice on
> educational issues from their councillors.
> The Tent City Occupation:
> Last year, teachers protesting against the academy occupied the site
> for six months. The site was vacated when the protestors secured a
> year's extension for all leaseholders on the site. However, Brent
> Council reneged on this promise by issuing notice to all businesses on
> the site to leave by 31st July. This high handed threat was after the
> council had promised in writing to help with ensuring all businesses
> would be relocated yet have done nothing, including the Sunflower
> nursery children.
> Brent Council have pushed for an immediate eviction order on the Tent
> City on the Wembley Sports Ground, Bridge Road, so the construction of
> temporary accomodation for the first 60 pupils can start. They will
> either be in portacabins on the sports fields or housed in the sports
> hall, a leaking dilapidated building that needs some serious work.
> Meanwhile, evidence has emerged that local primary schools have not
> filled their places for reception classes in September whilst the
> council actively encouraged parents to change their school selection
> preferences in favour of the new school as it has pushed ahead with
> this 'pre-academy' development. Just two schools shortfall (Wembley
> Primary and Preston Park - both very near the proposed school) nearly
> make up the 60 places to be offered in the temporary academy buildings
> proposed to open in September 08. Brent Council have acted to undermine
> their own state schools, leaving them in a worrying financial
> situation, by getting parents to apply for the academy reception places
> after they had already applied for local schools.
> The portocabins will be fully funded by the local taxpayer and not by
> Ark, the private investor in the Wembley Academy school.
> The academy scheme itself is largely financed the UK taxpayer, which
> the private investors are then able to make a profit from.
> Brent NUT & ATL Secretary Hank Roberts said on Friday 11 July, that
> they will resist the eviction, non-violently, in any way they can and
> asked for people to join him. Non-violent direct action tactics will be
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