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Another high profile MP courts Ipswich

PUBLISHED: 15:18 13 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:50 03 March 2010

SHADOW Education Secretary Damian Green was the latest high-profile politician to visit Ipswich during the by-election campaign today.

He was in town to find out about problems faced by parents looking for high school places for their children.

SHADOW Education Secretary Damian Green was the latest high-profile politician to visit Ipswich during the by-election campaign today.

He was in town to find out about problems faced by parents looking for high school places for their children.

He visited Chris Coaker, whose plight was featured in The Evening Star when he was trying to find High School places for his children Heidi and Liesl.

The family moved from Dickleburgh in Norfolk into a home in Phoenix Road, near Copleston High School, but because that was full they were told to go to Holywells High.

The youngsters could not settle there and have now got places at Farlingaye in Woodbridge where they are very happy.

Mr Green said the situation showed the lack of flexibility in the schools in Ipswich.

"There needs to be a more sensible approach to allocating school places, which takes into account the fact that people move home throughout the year," he said.

A legal judgement in 1997, the Rotherham Judgement, meant that schools were not able to keep places free if people from outside the catchment area applied for them.

"The government is currently preparing an Education Bill. There is no reason why this rule cannot be changed.

"And schools should be allowed some flexibility. Is the world going to come to an end if there is occasionally 31 pupils in a class? Isn't that a better short-term solution than bussing pupils across the county," he said.

He was supporting Tory candidate Paul West who has been campaigning for a new high school to be built in north Ipswich – especially with plans for a new 1,500-home estate off Westerfield Road.

"It is ridiculous for the Labour-controlled county council to say a new high school isn't necessary – they need to get real," he said.

Leading Liberal Democrat MP Professor Steve Webb was also in town to press his party's campaign for free off-peak bus travel for pensioners, disabled people, and students aged under 19.

He was also highlighting figures which showed that last year there were 25,000 "cold-related" winter deaths.

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