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BLUNKETT REPLIES TO LEAK CHARGE BY LGA

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Education secretary David Blunkett has responded to Local Government Association claims that the government breache...
Education secretary David Blunkett has responded to Local Government Association claims that the government breached the recently signed central/local government framework document in the way it released details of planned Education Action Zones last week.

LGA chairman Sir Jeremy Beecham and education chair Graham Lane expressed their concern at the way the public was left with the impression that local education authorities were to be frozen out of running the new zones, which would instead be run by private businesses (LGC, 9 January).

Both claimed the association was not consulted over the way the plans would be presented - contrary to the agreement signed last year between the LGA and ministers - with Sir Jeremy accusing the government of leaking the plans to the media.

In a letter to Mr Blunkett, Sir Jeremy says: 'The clear impression has been given that the proposals envisage the privatisation of the education service and the exclusion of LEAs.

'I would welcome your assurance that this is not the government's intention.'

Mr Blunkett wrote to Mr Lane saying LEAs would have a statutory responsibility for overseeing the work of the zones. He said LEAs would only cede this voluntarily, but added that a firm could become a 'lead partner' in a zone if selected to do so by the government.

Mr Lane described Mr Blunkett's letter as helpful, and said he and Sir Jeremy are seeking a meeting with Mr Blunkett to discuss the issue.

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