Les Wicks Should Resign

Children campaign to save St John's Infant School from closure in 2009.

Medway Labour is calling on the Portfolio holder for Education, Councillor Les Wicks, to resign his portfolio after a litany of failures, which has undermined the education of Medway’s children and young people.

The Labour group are extremely concerned by the gross incompetence shown by the Tory administration – in particular portfolio holder Les Wicks – in managing Medway’s schools. Over the last four years the portfolio holder has overseen problem after problem.

Cllr Wicks’ report card is filled with serious failures, such as:

  • The 11+ exam fiasco at the Chatham Grammar School for Boys and the Rainham School for Girls, where Medway Conservatives blamed the school for internal Council failures
  • The botched Primary School re-organisation programme, which used incorrect pupil statistics to close local primary schools, including the closure of Ridge Meadow and proposed closures of St Peter’s, Rochester and St John’s, Chatham
  • The £350,000 bill to cancel photocopier contracts across schools
  • The £1.8m overspend on the Walderslade School
  • The £1.25m overspend on the Woodlands School
  • Failure to back the Educational Maintenance Allowance for 16-18 year olds
  • The cancellation of the School improvements at Luton School and the cuts to Building School budget from £5m to cover maintenance only

Medway being ranked close to bottom of Level 4 league table with only 67% of pupils across the area gaining the level required

There is a growing feeling across Medway that it is time for Cllr Wicks to go.

This feeling is even echoed by members of his own party, as well as from coalition partners, the Lib Dems. Indeed, Conservative Party stalwart Alan W Collins and former Council candidate Christopher Sams have both called on Councillor Wicks to stand down, believing he is ill equipped to fulfil his portfolio.

It is time that leading Medway Tories put the education of our young people first. If Cllr Wicks is allowed to continue it will further undermine the credibility of local education.

Cllr Adam Price, Medway Labour spokesperson for education said,

“We are calling for Les Wicks to resign because Medway needs a portfolio holder who can command the respect of parents, teachers and staff. The 11+ fiasco was simply the last in a list of errors. He is simply not managing his brief”

“Before this, we saw the Woodlands School fiasco, which came on top of the overspend at Walderslade, and a U-turn from the administration on future pupil numbers and school capacity requirements.”

“It is time Cllr Wicks accepted that he is in the end responsible for the actions of his department. With more forthcoming changes in education on the horizon, we do not believe Cllr Wicks has the political capital or respect of the public to deliver.”

Cllr Sam Craven, who was highly active in the parent’s campaign against school closures, says,

“I think it is time that Les Wicks is held to account. Events clearly show that he is not fit for his post and the level of importance it carries.”