It's shameful

PUBLISHED: 10:17 31 January 2008 | UPDATED: 21:21 31 May 2010

THE?ATTITUDE of Essex County Council to children and parents, to school teachers, to their own employees and to their paying clients over the imminent closure of Wicken House residential centre at Wicken Bonhunt has shamed the reputation of local governme

THE?ATTITUDE of Essex County Council to children and parents, to school teachers, to their own employees and to their paying clients over the imminent closure of Wicken House residential centre at Wicken Bonhunt has shamed the reputation of local government.

It all started with a sham consultation that made no mention of closure of one of the most loved of children's facilities in Essex.

The county council has been unwilling to be open about the finances and has made spurious claims about the reason for closure. Their promise to sell off this part

of the 'county family silver' and to use the proceeds to replace the Wicken House facilities elsewhere seems

at best muddled and at worst a fabrication.

Cllr Ray Gooding said the 'receipts from the sale of the property would be better spent in developing 21st-century facilities at other locations'. That sounds like Wicken House will be replaced by something better.

Yet when I met Cllrs Chapman, Gooding and Hanningfield in December - when two expert educational customers of theirs were rudely excluded from the discussion - Tracey Chapman told me she had no interest in replicating the indoor artistic, cultural and the environmental education facilities of Wicken House at another centre. She only wanted to enhance facilities for outdoor activities such as climbing frames and boating.

Cllr Ray Gooding has also made feeble attempts in the local press to slur the GIFT organisation that provides educational events at Wicken House for gifted and talented children.

We can only hope that from the imminent changes in portfolios at county hall, which will at least see Cllr Chapman moved to new pastures, stronger respect for other people and their opinions may be ushered in to replace the obfuscation that greets people who probe the council's decisions.

Alan Dean

Member for Stansted South

Uttlesford District Council

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