There has been a lot of comment this week regarding the proposed move of St Julie’s High School from its current site in Woolton to a new home on the corner of Menlove Avenue and Beaconsfield Road. It is only natural that when making big plans and changes to the city people will have concerns. Problems are found and issues needing attention are uncovered and dealt with where possible.
I want to be clear with all residents, teaching staff, pupils and parents – I am committed to bringing the education infrastructure of this city into the modern day and in doing so, securing its future for many years to come. We will do this in a sustainable, safe and collaborative way and we will make sure that our children are getting the education they deserve.
Quite simply St Julies cannot stay where it is. The school was identified as one of 12 that urgently needed investment after the Liberal Democrat/Tory Government cruelly cancelled the Building Schools for the Future programme – taking £350million with them and bringing our plans to a sharp halt.
In response, I immediately set up a group looking at how we could raise the investment needed to continue the building and refurbishment programme required.
Ironically there was, and still is, no support or involvement from the Lib-Dems in the City. The same few who are now telling us what to do are now exploiting the few residents who wish to see no development or new school. This type of political opportunism sums up exactly why they as a party are so loathed by those of us who want what is best for the City. This same small group were against us taking over the Cunard Building, building new schools and housing, opposed the Welsh Streets development and even opposed the City Deal I negotiated which included the money I won for the Liverpool school improvement programme.
The money that is being used to build the 12 new schools is from a mixture of funding including the sale of old sites to invest in new ones. It means we are able to cover some of that huge shortfall left by the irresponsible behaviour of the Lib Dems and Tories. The sale of the land that St Julies currently sits on will directly fund the move as well as other objectives of the Schools building programme including a new build for Palmerston Special School, which is also desperately needed.
It is big projects like this that need effective and thorough public consultation and that is why we have held three public meetings so far, which have been attended by many hundreds of people. The story has been extensively carried by the local media and all written communications sent to myself and the Council are collated as part of the consultation.
We have already listened to concerns and made real, substantive changes and we are happy to continue to do so. We are lowering the height of proposed buildings from four floors to three. We have changed the entrances away from the narrow and congested Beaconsfield Road. We have heard the public’s concern about a drop-off facility on the edge of Calderstones Park and rejected this plan.
We’ll continue to listen and consult with residents but I do not want anyone to be in any doubt about my motivation. My primary concern is for an 18 year old girl to graduate St Julies with the best possible chances for the future. Investing in that future is what I was elected to do as Mayor, despite the cruel and intentional attack on that future by this Government.
I am serious about that future and will continue to invest in secondary, primary and special education. It is just a shame that the Lib Dems in this City and in Government do not have that same regard for the life chances of our children.