Schools: cuts and MATs

Many people have asked me about the school cuts and being a secondary school teacher, I know a little of the detail, but I also know the place you need to go to find out the more pressing details!  The Government cuts to education and schools can be found on this very useful website:

The site allows the user to type in specific postcodes or school names and find out exactly how much money is being cut / need to be saved by schools in the coming years.  The information is given in terms of ‘amount of teachers’, or ‘specific resource per student’ – some of the figures are alarming to say the least.  The astounding impact for local Gryphon School for instance is:


The site also allows users to contact local MPs, sign petitions and much more.  Worth a look if you have five minutes.

Talking of Gryphon School, another topic of interest within the local community at the moment is the introduction of a local Multi Academy Trust (MAT), which brings together 8 primary schools and one secondary school in one business like transformation which aims to build and implement changes and links to improve the education of the community.  As expected there are obvious benefits of all schools coming together to be one, but also some potential worries for both community and staff / students at he schools.

All information and questions can be found here, worth a read if you get a minute!

Letter to Jeremy Corbyn

Dear Jeremy, Having been a member of The Party for the last 33 years in West Dorset, and served as District and Town councillor for 24 years, PPC and CLP Chair during that time I am urging you to make it clear where Labour stands on the isssue of Brexit. The uncertainty is doing us a lot of harm in that many loyal members are getting worried that our MPs will not ‘put their vote where their conscience is’,and some are leaving the party.

The UK is a representative democracy which means that the MPs are required to put the public interest first – not their own. Therefore if they voted a certain way in the referendum they should reflect on this and vote to support the best interests of the whole country – in any future vote.Under our Constitution that is what the people are entitled to expect.

The MPs need to evaluate all the evidence before they do this, although before the referendum the MP’s vote was 480/ 145 to remain – a huge margin of 3:1.

All the evidence so far since June 23rd confirms their scepticism for leaving. The pound has become devalued by 20%, and independent forecasts on growth, jobs, wages, social cohesion, human rights , environmental issues,security and trade deals suggest that leaving The EU will be a disaster for the UK. In fact the UK may even cease to exist after we have left.

These are forecasts being made before we have left the EU and analysis of them makes the public interest quite clear.

We are being told by the hateful media that “The people have spoken” . In fact 28% of those who could vote won a majority. There was no threshold in terms of the percentage vote required to produce a valid result, and the size of the winning margin was also given no limitation in the event of the result being very close. Thus the eventual outcome is not a valid majority of ‘the people’ at all .

How can a vote by 28% of the country, led by a government that obtained 24% of the vote at the last General Election claim that this was, in any way an exercise in ‘Democracy’.It would be a travesty if it determines our future? On top of this our stand-in Prime Minister who voted to remain has no mandate ,since nobody has voted for her. Her predecessor as PM, who is responsible for this mess, had to resign.Our European colleagues must be laughing at us.

Making a decision on this issue is a matter of judgement, so that the conclusions of others should be considered. Therefore it is relevant to reflect on the opinion of previous Prime Ministers. The last five living Prime Ministers voted to remain in The EU, as did the previous four deceased ones in 1975. In fact one of them was responsible for pushing through the Single Market Act on which so much of our future depends.

What do this 28% know that they do not ?

I therefore urge you to work as hard as you can for The UK to remain in the EU and to vote for the common good when the time comes.

Yours sincerely,
Rob Bygrave Chair Sherborne Labour Party

Education… again!?

It has been interesting to read and watch all the hoo-hah about ‘Education, Not Segregation’ of late.  Why is this important at the moment?  Why are we focussing on Education once again when there are so many other much more vital areas to be discussing.  How about Mental Health which is seen to be on the rise in recent articles? See below:

As a teacher myself, it angers me that Theresa May has decided that THIS is a key item to be discussing.  Mr Gove has already ‘shaken’ things up and made his mark on the education system, so why oh why is this happening?

Please, please concentrate your forces on something else, NHS, Mental Health, the EU, the Environment ??

So, in answer to my original question, Why is This Important – it’s NOT!  So please join us (The Sherborne Labour Party) and the national party to fight against this catastrophic proposal of Grammar Schools!

The Leadership Election

Even for the “Independent”, the number and use of unnamed anonymous “sources” in this article ( is quite astonishing. However, amongst all the usual speculative delusion, there is one factor which causes concern to anyone who believes in the Labour Party, its principles and in he democratic process of the Labour movement. It is abundantly clear that elements within the Parliamentary Labour Party, are even now, planning another coup in the event that Jeremy Corbyn should emerge as winner in the current ballot.

The failed coup of earlier this year, has now descended into a sham leadership election, because the conspirators still fail to accept the democratic decision of the Labour party membership and cling to their over inflated view of their own ego’s and the belief that they have some “Divine right of Kings” to hold all power in the Labour Party. In much the same way as these egoists plotted and planned the overthrow of Corbyn, even before the 2015 leadership election, they now scheme and conspire to undermine and remove Corbyn after the result of this leadership election is declared. Regardless of what reasons they may present as justification for their duplicitous acts, no matter how much the media and television may support and encourage them, their real motivation is as clear as crystal. They seek only to retain power in their immediate circle, the continuation of the “status quo” as in the days of Blair, Brown and more latterly Miliband Minor. The continuation of the policies which were roundly rejected by the electorate at the most recent General elections.

The plotters have no respect for the Labour Party, its membership or for the democratic processes being concerned only with clinging on to their privileged positions and all that goes with it. Even their constant references to the “unelectable Jeremy Corbyn” and “electorate” has a hollow ring. The electorate has never been given a clear distinct choice between the parties. They have been offered “austerity” from the Conservatives or “austerity” in a different coloured box by the Labour party. All that is set to change and the Parliamentary Labour Party are petrified. I would have thought that after the election result is declared on September 24th, we could then concentrate on attacking the real enemy of people in this country, instead of targeting our own colleagues on the Labour benches.

The people of this country are in desperate need of a Labour government to roll back the excesses of this conservative administration and the ConDem coalition which preceded it. Alas, it seems that the personal ambitions and duplicitous scheming of some in the Parliamentary Labour Party will significantly hinder the improvements in our society that most of us in the Labour party and the wider electorate seek to create.

John Yates


A letter to Oliver Letwin MP:

Dear Oliver,

After the disastrous and unnecessary Referendum campaign we now have political and economic chaos in The Country.The leaders of the mendacious ‘Vote Leave’ faction are running away from the mess they have made as fast as they can. However the damage they have done with their lies and half-truths will live on. Public opinion is split down the middle and therefore the idea of ‘ trying to make it work’ would be a betrayal of our democracy and heritage.

The only way forward in my view is to have an early General Election with all the main parties setting out their position in a manifesto – something that was absent from the last debacle.The lack of a plan for the future meant that the people did not vote ‘for’ anything.

We have a representative democracy which infers that it is the MPs who make the decisions for the state not the people. In 1972, when we signed the first European Treaty,  an Act of Parliament was required and so it follows that another act is required in order to leave. The Referendum was only advisory, not legally binding. It is not even clear what issues the public felt were the most important when they voted. Did they have anything to do with Europe? We can only guess.

Therefore the so-called ‘mandate’ is totally flawed.and it would a tragedy for both the country and our young people if our future was determined by this result. Please use your influence to secure a proper debate over the relevant issues via a General Election in the next few months.In my opinion this should happen before triggering Article 50.

Yours sincerely,

Rob Bygrave
Chair West Dorset CLP

Sherborne Town Council Tax

Over the last five years the Sherborne parish precept has risen for a band D property from £120.20 to £184.51, a rise of circa 53%. Whereas the West Dorset precept has only risen from £124.80 to £134.75  a rise of circa 8%. Now the Town is much higher than the District when previously it was lower.

According to the figures sent to me by West Dorset Council, Sherborne appears to have the highest council tax based on band D for the whole of West Dorset.  Slightly higher than both Bridport & Dorchester.  If this high rate of increase continues in five years time the Sherborne precept could be circa £282.30 & in ten years circa £431.91. In twenty years at this rate of increase of circa 53% every five years the Sherborne precept alone could be just over £1000.

This rate of increase is, I believe, unsustainable & anyway unfair to residents on modest incomes who would either have to struggle to pay this or else perhaps consider moving elsewhere to a cheaper area.  As a Parish poll is likely to be an additional burden on Sherborne council tax payers I believe perhaps a petition could be organised sometime in the next 12 months or so depending upon whether or not the Town council is able or willing to ensure any increases are moderate in future e.g. in line with the rate of inflation or circa 3%.

Terry Prior (Sherborne Labour Party Member)

Vote Leave Breaks the Law

Dear Sir, [A letter to the BBC]

All over the country there has been an all party agreement to cease campaigning today in respect of Jo Cox.  Vote Leave leaflets were being distributed today at 1.00pm in our town of Sherborne, Dorset. This callous disregard is typical of what has been happening in our area. Last week the A352 road between Dorchester and Sherborne had many Vote Leave posters along its length. The posters had no name or address on them – which is illegal. They were also placed in very dangerous places, on bends, road signs, and verges close to the road. I have photographs of them. This is also illegal and clearly very dangerous. They are on record of wanting to leave The EU because of too much regulation – the ‘red tape’ that impedes their activities. In The UK this is known as ‘common decency’, and ‘the law’.

Yours sincerely, Rob Bygrave

Is it all Labour’s fault? A letter to the Guardian…

The Editor,

We hear that The Labour Party is being blamed for the apparent movement of opinion towards ‘Tory Brexit’. However recent research by Loughborough University shows that the media has been ignoring Labour. In fact Labour views have only been represented in 4% of the coverage on TV.

As a public broadcaster funded by the taxpayer the BBC has a duty of impartiality and fair play. However their strategy of using ‘the politics of omission’ is now beginning to unravel. The evidence shows that our major broadcaster has been ignoring the Labour view. In my experience BBC reporters show a sneering disregard for the views of Labour voters who support Remain and give far more air time to vox pop ‘town centre Brexit pundits.’ The BBC also relishes any news associated with the 9 labour MPs who support Brexit which is really ‘Labour maverick’ opinion.The Labour Party is blamed for not engaging in the debate but the BBC is also to be blamed for its selective portrayal of Labour opinion.

This of course will continue as long as the BBC has its Conservative ‘placemen’ controlling almost every form of public debate. The people who chair or interview the public all too frequently come from  a background of public school and Oxbridge, even the Bullingdon Club.Some also write for the right-wing press and are Conservative party members.It can therefore be asked ‘how can an interviewer on TV or radio remain impartial’ if the right-wing newspaper that he or she also works for pays more than The BBC.

Is there any wonder that the public, of whom over 9 million voted Labour in 2015 when the party was led by the much maligned Ed Miliband,are fed-up with hearing so much divided Tory drivel about Europe?

Jeremy Corbyn is getting even harsher treatment than Ed Milliband.The new tactic is to blame him and his enthusiastic supporters, many of whom go out campaigning every day to make the case for remaining in the EU. The BBC needs to look again at its impartiality policy to ensure that its brief to retain balance is not distorting the facts in what is one of the the most serious debates of our lifetime.

Yours sincerely,

Rob Bygrave

PS – Why are we having this foolish Referendum anyway ? We pay 650 MPs and 900 ‘Lords’ to take these decisions for us !

Robert James Bygrave

“Stay in the EU – please don’t betray me…”

I am 96 and write on behalf of my comrades alive and dead who fought with me from El Alamein to Hamburg to liberate Europe from Fascism forever. The Founding Fathers including Winston Churchill set up the EU to bring that about. If Britain leaves the EU it will collapse, and we will lose the only curb to right-wing parties already on the march in Poland, France, Hungary and Austria and the scene will be set for another European war.

I beg you not to betray me and my comrades who fought to free our continent from futile tribal wars. Please do not destroy the EU and make our many toils and sacrifices all in vain.

Gunner Coombs, 5th Regt Royal Horse Artillery, 7th Armoured Division (Desert Rats)

April thoughts

Well, here we are in April, which has been a mixture of miserable April showers and a dash of sunshine over the last week or so!  The EU Referendum is closer than ever, and 5th May is just around the corner.  Amidst this busy political agenda and frantic campaigning, it is always pleasing to see positive local press.

The article which I refer to here is that of news that Pete Bryer is the latest recipient of the Mervyn Smith Community Champion Award.  I remember this time last year, during the annual Sherborne Town Council Town Meeting [I was representing a local organisation and giving a short update of the charity’s annual successes].  I sat next to Pete’s wife, Chris and we had a catch up – it had been a long time since we’d chatted.  I used to attend the Youth Centre whilst Pete was running the show, back in the day! At this very meeting my thoughts turned to Pete, and I wondered if recognition would be given for his hard work in the community over the years?  What a phenomenal outcome this is – well done Pete and from the Sherborne Labour Party, we wish you luck with the potential future venture with the Youth Centre.  As I have written in a previous post – it is a vital asset to the young people of the town, and its great that a group of people are thinking so hard about its future.

You can read the article below or by clicking here.
Joe – Sherborne Labour Party Member and website manager.