Tory pledge to probe resort fire crisis

OPPOSITION leader Iain Duncan Smith today pledged to look into the situation surrounding retained firefighters at Felixstowe during the current dispute.

By Paul Geater

OPPOSITION leader Iain Duncan Smith today pledged to look into the situation surrounding retained firefighters at Felixstowe during the current dispute.

The retained firefighters have been told they'll only be summoned in an emergency during the current dispute – although they want to work normally.

"I don't know all the facts surrounding this case, there may be an insurance issue," said Mr Duncan Smith during a visit to Ipswich. "But it is certainly something that needs to be looked into."


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Mr Duncan Smith was visiting Ipswich's Holywells High School, which is still in special measures following a critical Ofsted report last year.

The school has been turned around by headteacher Karen Grimes but it is still receiving support.

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Mr Duncan Smith saw some pupils using Lego as part of a technology project – and was impressed by a computer-controlled model.

The youngsters were unfazed by their VIP guest as they explained how they had programmed the model.

"What would you do if you weren't a politician?" asked 14-year-old Chris Cook.

"I was a businessman before I went into parliament," Mr Duncan Smith replied. "What do you want to do?"

"Pass," said Chris. "Ah, you'll make a politician," Mr Duncan Smith said.

The pupils introduced to the Tory leader knew who he was, and for 14-year-old Chris Ling rubbing shoulders with a top politician was not a new experience – earlier this year he had tea with Cherie Blair at Number 10.

Mr Duncan Smith said he was impressed by the efforts of new headteacher Karen Grimes and her staff to turn round the school.

During a private meeting with him, Mrs Grimes outlined her concerns that when the school came out of special measures it would once again be near the bottom of the exam league tables.

"There does need to be a change in the way league tables are compiled to reflect more than just academic results," said the Tory leader.

"I have been very impressed by this school, whatever the league tables show."

He said one of the most serious problems was that schools near the bottom of league table were often seen by local authorities as "sink" schools where pupils no one else wanted were sent.

"That is something the government needs to guard against," he said.

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