Thursday, 13 December 2012

Son of Tameside education boss convicted of drug offences!

Although he's only a council joiner and not the Queen, this year (2012), could turn out to be an annus horribilis for councillor Gerald (Ged) Cooney (pictured), the executive cabinet member for (Learning and Achievement) at Tameside Council, in Greater Manchester.

As the councillor with responsibility for both children's education and libraries in Tameside, it has been a difficult year for the Droylsden West Labour councillor. Cuts in library services that were implemented in October, have seen the closure of  five of the thirteen Tameside libraries, job losses, and a substantial reduction in library opening hours. Though many library staff  saw their hours and pay cut, eight senior library mangers, including library boss, Adam Allen (a Geordie with a background in sport), have received pay rises after cutting services, from a council supposedly strapped for cash.

While libraries closed and other public services got axed, the leader of  the council Kieran Quinn, told an incredulous public that services were not being closed but 'redesigned'.When mother's and  kids took to the streets in an attempt to keep their local libraries open, Cooney (who like Quinn always sticks to his press office script), told them in his oft-repeated mantra, that it was "important to remember that libraries were about services not buildings" and that the "new offer would provide a modern and comprehensive service that will meet people's needs." Few people were taken in with his claptrap.

Even though the Libraries and Museums Act 1964, requires council's to provide "an efficient and comprehensive library service", the library boss recently told a public meeting of Denton West-End library users, that the way things were going, there might not be any libraries in Tameside in the future.

More recently, the council's education boss has come under fire after the 'The Office for Standards in Education' (Ofsted) revealed that Tameside ranked as the worst local authority in Greater Manchester for education and the fifth worst nationally. The Ofsted report - that ranked every local council across England for the percentage of students attending schools which it rated good or outstanding - says that "Only a third of Tameside's secondary school children attend good or outstanding schools" and that this is one of the lowest figures in Britain. According to Ofsted, only 34% of secondary school pupils attend a Tameside school that is rated good or outstanding and only 57%, of Tameside's younger pupils, attend a good or outstanding primary school, which is the lowest figure in Greater Manchester.

The council have responded to the Oftsed findings by referring to exam tests results that they say show that Tameside school children are getting a good education. They also say that the opinion of Ofsted inspectors on the perfomance of schools, is a 'subjective measure of many factors such as leadership and capacity to improve'. But no matter how hard Tameside Council try to spin their way out of this, the Ofsted report is damning and must be deeply embarrassing for both the local authority and councillor Cooney, as the Executive Cabinet member responsible for education.

Last year, councillor Cooney claimed £31,998 in allowances from the taxpayer for running failing Tameside schools. Although he's listed has being employed as a joiner by Manchester City Council, it's doubtful that he spends much time in his overalls, given his many other positions that are connected with his political role. Apart from being a Tameside councillor, he's also a member of the Children and Young People's Strategic Partnership Trust and a Member of the Economic and Learning Partnership. He also lists membership of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund Panel and membership of AGMA's board of housing and planning.

There have been calls for Councillor Cooney to lose his executive cabinet post for (Learning and Achievement) because of the Ofsted criticism of Tameside schools. But as this is the season of goodwill, perhaps we should feel slightly sorry for him. Having taken flak during the year for library closures and failing schools, he now as pressing domestic concerns of his own.

Last month, councillor Cooney's son appeared in the dock charged with drug offences. Simon John Paul Cooney, of Parvet Ave, Droylsden, was fined £400 with £125 costs for possessing cocaine. Although his appearance in court received a brief mention in the local Tameside Advertiser, it failed to get any mention whatsoever in the local Tameside Reporter, that is now owned by New Charter Housing Trust Ltd. Whether this ommission by the newspaper had anything to do with the fact that Councillor Cooney is the Chairman of New Charter Housing, is debatable. However, some people might suggest that if Councillor Cooney cannot keep his own house and kids in order, then there is little hope for Tameside schools and the areas school children.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

New Charter don't just own schools. Last year they took over a homelessness charity called "Threshold housing project". Last month they tok over "Tameside Home Services" and placed them under Threshold. Why did THS require taking over? Because TMBC cut their grant. Hmmmmm wonder which councillors voted for the cut? And are they New Charter directors?