Norwich MP Clive Lewis defends decision to not meet Inspiration Trust ‘robber barons’

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis delivering his maiden speech

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis delivering his maiden speech - Credit: Archant

Norwich MP Clive Lewis has stood by his decision not to meet the academy chain set to take over the Hewett School before he attacked it in his maiden speech.

He said he would only meet the leaders of the Inspiration Trust if there was 'something to talk about', and with parents, who he claimed the trust were refusing to meet.

He also urged the Inspiration Trust to push for the land which houses the school to be handed back to Norfolk County Council in a trust.

But Inspiration Trust chief executive Rachel de Souza accused Mr Lewis of 'getting his wires crossed'. She said there had been a number of open meetings with parents, and that the current owners of the land were a not-for-profit charity like her organisation.

The school is a foundation school, with its land owned by the Central Norwich Foundation Trust, which includes members of the school's governing body, Norwich University of the Arts, Aviva, and City College Norwich.

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Government guidance says the transfer of land to an academy sponsor should be agreed locally 'in the vast majority of cases', but if the parties cannot reach an agreement, or the government believes there are 'unacceptable delays to the process', the education secretary can make the transfer of land compulsory.

Mr Lewis used his first speech to accuse the Inspiration Trust of being 'robber barons' and wanting to take the '£60m of land' from the people of Norwich. But at the time the trust said it had tried to meet and talk to the new MP.

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'I am prepared to go and talk to them. But if it is simply going to be 'this is how it is and this is how we are rolling and like it or lump it' then I will continue to oppose them,' he said.

Mr Lewis said he believes the academy chain should only take the 'bare minimum' of the land it needed and the rest should be put into a trust and handed to Norfolk County Council.

Dame de Souza said her academy chain had answered questions from parents, and heard their views.

'Mr Lewis says he wants the land to be owned by a trust.

'He seems to have forgotten again that we are a not-for-profit charity, just like the Central Norwich Foundation Trust that currently looks after the land.

'We have repeatedly said that we have no intention of selling off land at the Hewett; rather we think it should be protected for educational and community use.'

Do you have a child at the Hewett School? What do you think? Email and include your full contact details.

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