Coun­cils block se­cu­rity funds for schools

The Jewish Chronicle - - Front Page - BY LEON SY­MONS

AN MP who has taken a lead­ing role in fight­ing an­tisemitism is pre­par­ing to con­front 14 lo­cal au­thor­i­ties which have baulked at com­mit­ting them­selves to fund new se­cu­rity projects at Jewish schools in their ar­eas.

The gov­ern­ment gave the coun­cils the go-ahead last Oc­to­ber to al­lo­cate money to such projects from a £21 bil­lion, three-year ed­u­ca­tion bud­get.

The coun­cils — some of which host the coun­try’s big­gest Jewish com­mu­ni­ties — were con­tacted by the Com­mu­nity Se­cu­rity Trust, of­fer­ing its ex­per­tise and ad­vice on what se­cu­rity sys­tems would be ap­pro­pri­ate for the Jewish schools within their borders.

But the JC has dis­cov­ered that, al­though the coun­cils replied, none of them has agreed to set aside money for the projects.

Now John Mann MP, chair of the par­lia­men­tary All-Party An­tisemitism Group, has stepped in to take up the cud­gels. Se­cu­rity in Jewish schools was one of the cen­tral rec­om­men­da­tions of the 35 points the com­mit­tee made in its re­port in 2006.

The JC un­der­stands that Mr Mann is now writ­ing to the coun­cils in or­der to se­cure a more pos­i­tive re­sponse.

Al­though he was un­avail­able for com­ment this week, CST com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor Mark Gard­ner said: “The gov­ern­ment ap­pears to be com­mit­ted to the fund­ing pro­posal but the sug­gested mech­a­nism is ob­vi­ously not de­liv­er­ing what was re­quired.”

The coun­cils in­volved are Barnet, Birm­ing­ham, Brent, Bury, En­field, Hack­ney, Har­row, Hert­ford­shire, Leeds, Liver­pool, Manch­ester, Red­bridge, Sal­ford and Stock­port.

Mean­while, the real cost of provid- ing se­cu­rity at Jewish schools was re­vealed last week dur­ing a ground­break­ing de­bate on an­tisemitism which took place in the main cham­ber of the House of Com­mons.

Hen­donLabourMPAn­drewDis­more told MPs that while the gov­ern­ment had said that coun­cils could spend cap­i­tal funds on se­cu­rity, the big­gest prob­lem faced by Jewish schools was day-to-day fund­ing.

Mr Dis­more said: “The bur­sar of Meno­rah Foun­da­tion School wrote to me. She said that the real prob­lem was rev­enue fund­ing for day-to-day se­cu­rity. Last year, Meno­rah spent more than £20,000 on se­cu­rity guards.

“I phoned Rosh Pi­nah this morn­ing, and it had spent £15,000 on new alarms and a sim­i­lar sum on se­cu­rity guards. Mathilda Marks Kennedy School re­ports sim­i­lar fig­ures.”

The In­de­pen­dent Jewish Day School spent £18,000 a year, while Has­monean Ju­nior spent £19,500. At Has­monean Sec­ondary, the cost soared to £90,000 a year.

The fig­ures, he said, con­tra­dicted the Gov­ern­ment’s re­cent claim that a num­ber of named Jewish schools in Barnet and Manch­ester were wrongly de­mand­ing par­ents pay “vol­un­tary” fees.

“This is a se­ri­ous prob­lem. It is a vol­un­tary con­tri­bu­tion, but Jewish par­ents are ex­pected to pay to­wards the cost of en­sur­ing that their chil­dren are se­cure at school. At Meno­rah, the se­cu­rity el­e­ment is £300 a year; for Rosh Pi­nah it is £200, for Mathilda Marks Kennedy £240 and for Has­monean £105. It is not fair that par­ents are ex­pected to pay for what ev­ery other par­ent takes for granted — the safety of their chil­dren at school,” he said.

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