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'Don't be a Mug' school attendance campaign causes a stir

Is a council justified in telling parents 'not to be mugs' and make sure they don't take their children out of school in term time?

Many, including a mother of three, think East Sussex County Council is being patronising, to say the least.

The words are used in a high-profile campaign aimed at improving poor school attendance in the county. But critics say it's ill conceived and short-sighted.

Our reporter Andy Dickenson has been looking at both sides of the argument and speaks to mother Lara Stutchbury and Nathan Caine from the council.


Six fire engines called to East Sussex County Hall

Fire engines at County Hall in Lewes

Six fire engines and up to 40 firefighters are dealing with a fire on the second floor of County Hall in Lewes. Crews from Lewes itself, Barcombe, Roedean, Hove, Newhaven and Uckfield are in attendance, as are a Command Unit from Bexhill and other fire service officials.

The firefighters were called to the Headquarters of East Sussex County council at 6.44am. There have been no reports of anyone in the building. It not yet known what caused the fire to start.


Disability project the latest victim of council cuts

A pioneering scheme for people with learning difficulties has become the latest victim of council cuts in our region.

The Nature Corridors for All project in Lewes has been told by East Sussex County Council that the £50,000 a year it takes to fund it - will be stopped.

And as Andy Dickenson reports, its organisers have been left asking just where the cuts will end?

He speaks to Ebrima Furlong from Priory School, Jackie Poole, a participant of the scheme, and Dr John Parry, it's organiser.

East Sussex County Council responds to Gove's school standards criticism

Education Secretary Michael Gove has criticised school standards in East Sussex and says more there need to be turned into academies. But East Sussex County Council says his comments are unfounded and have challenged him to meet them face-to-face. The local authority's statement is below.

“We continue to be puzzled by this inaccurate criticism of our attitude to academy status and are surprised the Secretary of State continues to make it. We would welcome the opportunity to give Mr Gove an up-to-date briefing in person so that he can understand the position in East Sussexbetter. Almost half of our secondary schools (11 out of 26) are now academies, and we are co-sponsors of three secondary academies in Hastings and Eastbourne.

Also, last year, together with the Department for Education, we brokered sponsors for four primary academies. In addition to this we have been in close dialogue with Govt officials, and a number of potential sponsors, about a number of under-performing schools and academy status. So it is simply not accurate for the Govt to suggest we are resistant to schools becoming academies.”

– Cllr Nick Bennett, Lead Member for Learning & School Effectiveness, East Sussex County Council

Statement from East Sussex County Council

East Sussex County Council say they are doing everything they can to ensure the minimum amount of disruption is caused in the county following the collapse of local bus company Countryliner.

Hundreds of school children will experience delays to their travel to school this morning after the company went into administration late yesterday afternoon.

The County Council has taken action to ensure that at a minimum those services that provide journeys to and from school operate on Tuesday 9 October in the morning and afternoon. This will mean children should be able get to and from school as normal but expect delays. It is likely there will be disruption to bus services throughout the day

– Statement from East Sussex County Council

Partners in saving

Surrey and East County Councils say they want to join forces to save millions of pounds.

The two local authorities are finalising plans to work together to drive harder bargains with suppliers they both use.

They claim collective buying power will cut shared costs by millions of pounds each year.

The partnership will be considered by East Sussex's cabinet on 24th July. Peter Jones, the leader of East Sussex County Council, said it was a ground breaking partnership which would lead to better deals.

The public sector should be seen as a single team co-operating to save money wherever possible while continuing to provide excellent services."

– David Hodge, Surrey County Council leader.