- In response to Conservative questions, Labour confirms it did not take scientific advice when halting the process of reopening of schools.
- Union correspondence indicates it helped draft Cllr. John Allcock’s letter to parents
- Administration’s policy is increasing inequality in local education day by day
Conservative Spokesperson for Health and Wellbeing Cllr Samer Bagaeen has said that Labour and the Unions have ignored the science in its decision to strongly advise schools to halt the process of reopening in Brighton & Hove.
Cllr Bagaeen, who is a Professor at Kent University, said that there was now increasing evidence that Labour had not used the science in its decision-making process on the reopening of schools.
In a response to Conservative questions asking about the decision-making process leading up to its letter announcing that it was halting the process of school re-openings, Labour confirmed that:
- The Administration did not take further additional scientific advice in making the announcement to parents not to follow government advice.
- No scientific assessment was made of the mental health implications of keeping children at home for long periods.
- No scientific assessment was made on the impact on local parents.
- The administration is advising schools to remain closed but has no broader plan of criteria to reopen schools.
Furthermore, a communication to all councillors from the GMB trade union on Friday afternoon indicated that unions were involved in approving a the letter to parents that was sent by Cllr John Allcock and the Interim Director of Housing to all parents in the City.
In this communication, the Union suggested the R number might be as high as 1.7 in Brighton & Hove.
Cllr Bagaeen questioned the science behind this statistic used by the Union to justify keeping Brighton & Hove school children at home.
“Labour has stopped progress towards the reopening of schools but not based on any sound science” Cllr Bagaeen said.
“The current data on new cases appear to be indicating a mini peak but this is not a reason to conclude that the rate of infection or the R number in the city is 1.7 as Mark Turner from the GMB suggests it is.
“In fact, it is impossible to determine what the R number is in the city because we do not have the data on the tests conducted in the city and the number of test results coming back positive.
“When I asked the Director of Public Health on the apparent spike in cases earlier in the week, he, and the Labour Chair of the HWB, Cllr. Clare Moonan, suggested that we should be looking at trend data and that one or two days with higher numbers would not affect these.
“The DPH has also said he would check whether there is a reporting lag because at the moment some tests going to private laboratories are delayed coming back with a result.
“Mr Turner would do well to check the ONS data rather than a random survey quoted in the Argus. The ONS indicated on 28 May that ‘the number of new COVID-19 infections is relatively stable’.
“Data for hospital admissions in Brighton and Hove and the capacity for critical care beds back up this position.
“Mr. Turner would do well to check his sources before issuing a communication intended to sow panic in the city” Cllr Bagaeen said.
Cllr Bagaeen said that the impact of all of this would be to increase inequality of education in Brighton & Hove.
“The Labour administration has decided to halt the process of school reopenings without any due regard for the science.
“With many private schools operating and functioning, it is the children in the 65 schools in the state sector that are being denied education.
“Labour needs to urgently advise what plan it has in place to reopen schools as every day it doesn’t have one, inequality will rise” Cllr Bagaeen said.