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School places top priority for London councillors

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Creating more school places is the top priority of councillors in London, according to an extensive poll of the capital’s local politicians.

With more than half (51%) of respondents naming it as one of the top three priorities for their borough, creating more school places was clearly the main focus for London councillors, comfortably ahead of delivering more homes (42%) and environmental services such as street cleaning (41%).

These were the main findings from a survey of more than 200 London councillors conducted by YouGov for the London Communications Agency and presented at the London Councils Summit on Saturday.

The full results of the survey – which was conducted in late October and early November – will be published next week. However, the findings will feed into London Councils’ campaign for the government to define a strategic role for councils in an education system marked by high levels of school autonomy.

Breaking the results down by political party revealed some differences in priorities. Whilst the creation of more school places was a high priority for politicians of all parties, Labour councillors’ top priority was delivering more homes (59%) whilst Conservative councillors favoured keeping the streets clean (50%).

London mayor Boris Johnson, who also addressed the event on Saturday, was whether he wanted to play a larger role in the provision of education in the capital. He insisted he had “no such ambition” but said he would retain an interest in how the education system contributed to the capital’s economy by preparing young people for the workplace.

The YouGov survey found improving local transport (4%) and lowering council tax (13%) were the areas chosen by the fewest councillors as a top priority.

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