I see that the "third-round of school building" saga continues to attract a fair bit of press attention ... and that my earlier statement recounting that "we had a firm commitment to refurbish or rebuild those five schools" has made the letters page of my favourite local newspaper.
Needless to say, I've sent a response - thought I might as well print it in full here:
In the light of Cllr. Beckett's obvious confusion (letters, October 4th) I do feel obliged to write and unreservedly repeat my statement that "we had a firm commitment to refurbish or rebuild those five schools." Just for the further avoidance of any doubt, the dictionary definition of commitment is 'a pledge or a promise'.
Our local manifesto for the May 2007 elections did indeed have a firm commitment to build a total of eight brand new schools in Edinburgh, adding to the 20 new or refurbished school buildings we had already made possible; and our national manifesto had a firm commitment to build a further 250 new schools, across Scotland, in the lifetime of the current Parliament.
These firm Labour commitments were somewhat echoed in Cllr. Beckett's own local manifesto, which stated the SNP would "match the existing building programme; brick for brick, financed through a lower cost bond based system"; and his national manifesto which also stated that "we will match the current school building programme brick for brick, and offer an alternative funding mechanism through the Scottish Futures Trust."
Can I therefore humbly suggest that instead of trying to make cheap political points through the letters page of the Evening News that Cllr. Beckett, as Vice-Convener of Education in this city, uses the power he now has to the benefit of Edinburgh's school population. A good starting point might be speaking to the Cabinet Secretary for Education & Lifelong Learning and trying to persuade her to actually deliver on her firm commitment to match Labour's spending plans for new schools.