Conservatives Have No Confidence in Labour’s Education Lead Councillor
Conservatives on Reading Borough Council will be moving a motion at the next full Council meeting later this month expressing “no confidence” in Labour Councillor Jon Hartley as the Lead Member for Education and Lifelong Learning.
At the Council Meeting on 26th January 2010 Conservative Councillor Tim Harris proposed a motion championing the cause of victims of homophobic bullying in schools and colleges in Reading. Cllr Harris asked the Council to agree a resolution deploring all forms of bullying and to engage with the charity Stonewall’s “Education Champions Programme” to identify and understand issues around homophobic bullying and to make sure all schools and colleges in the borough deal with homophobic bullying in their anti-bullying policies by September 2010.
In the debate that ensued, Cllr Hartley stated that the Council had already signed-up to the Stonewall “Education Champions Programme”. Under further questioning from Cllr Harris, who had checked with Stonewall and was told that RBC was not part of the programme, Cllr Hartley again insisted that the Council had indeed signed up and attacked Cllr Harris for not knowing his facts.
Cllr Tim Harris, Conservative Lead Spokesman for Community Care and Health, said, “After the January Council meeting I did some further research, and I now understand that the information given to me at the full Council meeting by Cllr Hartley was false. I have had it confirmed that it had already been decided, before the Council meeting, that RBC would not sign up to this programme.”
Cllr Harris continued, “I really don’t know why Cllr Hartley misled the Council meeting. It would be amazing if he deliberately misled the Council, which leaves the only alternative that he had not bothered to check his facts before answering my question. It is imperative that the public and councillors have full confidence in Lead Councillors and the statements they make; it is inexcusable for a Lead Councillor who has all the resources of the Council and its officers at his disposal to say one thing when, it seems, the other is true. Either way he is clearly unfit to continue in this important portfolio.”
The motion of no confidence in Cllr Hartley also highlights his failure to attend the last three meetings of the Council’s Standing Advisory Committee on Religious Education (SACRE) and his consequent disqualification from membership under the Committee’s Terms of Office contained in the SACRE constitution. Hartley is not exactly known for his hard work or background research so it is hardly surprising that he has been kicked off a Council Education committee for non-attendance. However, misleading the full Council meeting in such a blatant and partisan way is completely unacceptable. He had ample opportunity to check his facts before hand or to promise Cllr Harris that he would look into what he had said but instead he blustered on. He made assertions that were subsequently found to be untrue and he should do the decent thing and resign.