Setting farm record straight
IN REPLY to the article on the Warriner School Farm grant cuts (Banbury Guardian, Thursday, November 1), Sir Tony Baldry’s website blog and Cllr Mallon’s letter of last week (Banbury Guardian, November 8).
As Cllr Mallon and Sir Tony Baldry’s defence of the farm grant cut include personal attacks on me, I would like to set the record straight.
They both build a mountain on the assertion that I have hidden behind anonymity.
This is completely untrue.
When I wrote to the Banbury Guardian as a parent of a child at the Warriner School, and not as some sort of Labour Party spokesman, I signed my letter and expected my name to be published.
Although I was not involved in this year’s local elections, if ever inspiration were needed to stand again, it would come from the dubious political arguments of Messers Baldry and Mallon.
On the substantive issue of the Warriner School Farm grant cut, what is particularly galling is not that Sir Tony Baldry is wrong that I have tried to remain anonymous; it is not that Sir Tony Baldry is wrong to imply that the school budget increase is in some way compensation for the loss of the farm grant; it is not even that Sir Tony Baldry is wrong about the farm’s aspiration to become a self-sufficient enterprise. It is that this grant is being cut at exactly the same time as the Chancellor’s tax break for the very few whose income is more than £150,000 a year, like Sir Tony Baldry.
This tax break will give them thousands more, while education, health and welfare services for most people are cut.
Ditching this millionaire’s tax break, Cllr Mallon, is how I would find funds for the Warriner School Farm grant.
IT IS an absolute disgrace that a £40,000 grant is to be withdrawn from the Warriner School which will jeopardise the future of the school farm.
Not many years ago there were only 65 school and community farms across the whole country but this has now grown to more than 90 and the Warriner farm is recognised as being one of the outstanding examples – indeed the Warriner School Farm scooped the Farm to Classroom prize in the Farming And Countryside Education Awards, run in conjunction with Bayer Crop Science.
The farm was praised for its ‘outstanding contribution to school life away from the farm’.
So, instead of trying to score political points from this situation, our elected civic leaders should be putting their energy into fighting to save this valuable and well-regarded teaching resource.
It is the only school for many miles which has such a facility and this is used to great benefit by hundreds of local school children to augment their learning about agriculture, horticulture and livestock husbandry.
This facility should be celebrated and encouraged, not allowed to fail through unimaginative policy.
The volunteers who assist at the farm in various ways, including running the farm shop, work very hard but they cannot possibly make up this shortfall, so it is incumbent on all, especially those with influence, to work with the local community to ensure the continuity of this much valued resource.
As has already been pointed out, the additional £75,000 to be received by the school is to meet the additional costs of educating the growing school population, and is not, in any way, geared to the retention of the school farm.
More letters in this week’s Banbury Guardian.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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