Common Sense breaks out in Wiltshire

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

I'm fortunate enough to live in Wiltshire and so was pleased to see that James Dyson won an 18 month-long battle with Wiltshire Council [WC] and the DfE and now can make a £6m school donation to the primary school near his research centre in Malmesbury.

He wanted to give the grant to build a centre for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (Steam), seven new classrooms and a school hall.  What's not to like I thought when I heard of this plan a while back.  Silly me!  I'd not thought of the blinkered bureaucrats at Wiltshire Council.

Wiltshire Council opposed it on what seemed to be equity grounds — ie, not every local school or child was going to be able to benefit.  They were seemingly happy to turn the offer down apparently unaware of (or indifferent to) how this looked to Wiltshire tax-payers.

Missing the point completely, the Council's Cabinet Member for Children's Services, Laura Mayes, said there were already enough places in the three local schools for expected demand, adding that Wiltshire "is committed to ensuring all our school pupils have access to opportunities that excite and inspire them to achieve the very best".
How you do that by turning down £6m she failed to explain.

Dyson played hardball along with the school's admirable head, and went to the DfE whose ultimate decision it turned out to be.  The DfE caved in, but then tried to row back at the last minute on what had been agreed, but were faced down again.

Now it’s up to WC to award planning permission so it could all go wrong even though the land next to the school was allocated for educational use.

I've lived in the county for over 35 years and have learned that it’s wise never to over-estimate the ability of the Council to do the right thing.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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  • I was tempted to write a long comment, but instead will make an observation that common sense, especially with bureaucrats and the people that elect them, derives from their worldviews. If their worldviews have an economic base, then it isn't surprising how doing 'the right thing' can be confusingly uncommon or incomprehensible.