The leader of Suffolk County Council’s Labour group has come under attack for attending a teachers’ strike rally in Ipswich this week.

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Councillor Sandy Martin declined to say whether he supported the NUT strike over pay and pensions, but did join over 100 teachers on Ipswich’s Cornhill where he delivered a speech.

Teachers are in dispute with the Government over the introduction of a performance-related pay structure and a tougher pension package which would see them received their pension at the age of 67.

However the Conservative leader of the council, Mark Bee, said he was “appalled” at the decision by Mr Martin, to “stand in line with teachers who are denying children a much-needed day of education”.

He continued: “Last week he was expressing his concerns about our young people’s education. Less than a week later, and he’s out on the picket line supporting teachers who are acting in their own interest and against the interest of children across Suffolk.

“It’s clear that councillor Martin has little concern for hard-pressed parents who had to take a day off work or pay for extra childcare.”

Mr Martin has dismissed the criticisms and said: “I’m not a member of the NUT.

“But I do think that a lot of damage that is being done to education at the moment with free schools being started up in places where they aren’t needed, siphoning money off from other schools which need it, teachers being demoralised, the curriculum changing at the whim of the secretary of state and nobody being sure of how stringent the exams will be from one year to the next.

“All of these are really serious issues and parents are very concerned. The amount of damage being done by this is far greater than one day of strike.”

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