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Decision on Norwich’s Hewett School should be local, says shadow chancellor Ed Balls

Shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, centre, meets with Labour candidates Jess Asato, Clive Lewis, back right, and voters at the Earlham House Green Grocers café. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, centre, meets with Labour candidates Jess Asato, Clive Lewis, back right, and voters at the Earlham House Green Grocers café. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

The decision over the future of Norwich’s Hewett School should be made locally, not by “a bunch of guys from Whitehall who do not know what they are talking about”, according to Labour’s shadow chancellor Ed Balls.

Mr Balls met voters and his party’s Norwich North and South candidates Jess Asato and Clive Lewis in the Green Grocers at Earlham House shops at the weekend.

Along with the NHS and the student vote, Mr Balls talked about the Hewett School, which has been at the centre of growing controversy since it was put into special measures last November. Ofsted inspectors rated it ‘inadequate’.

Education secretary Nicky Morgan last month signed an academy order for the school, formally signalling the preference for it to become an academy sponsored by the Inspiration Trust.

But Mr Balls said: “If the results are not good enough and there needs to be change, then there should be change. But it should not be imposed by a bunch of guys from Whitehall who do not know what they are talking about.

“The solution should not be imposed centrally, but should be taken locally. Taking the decision locally doesn’t mean making a decision to do nothing. If there’s a leadership problem then something needs to change.”

He re-iterated that his party would ensure the rail franchising process, which started in February, would continue, but reform would mean a not for profit bidder would be involved.

With Norfolk County Council currently run by Labour with the support of UKIP, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, Mr Balls said such an unusual alliance was unlikely to be repeated at national level.

He said: “There’s not going to be an alliance with UKIP and Ed Miliband has made clear there will not be one with the Scottish National Party. We want a majority Labour government so we can deliver our manifesto.”

Coincidentally, members of the Green Party were also in the cafe during Mr Balls’ visit. And as they were leaving, Green city councillor Lucy Galvin challenged Mr Balls and Mr Lewis on how the pair would square their differences of opinion on issues such as Trident, fracking and rail, if the latter took Norwich South.

Mr Lewis said that would become clear if he was elected, but Mrs Galvin, was far from convinced.

• What do you think? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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