Regular readers of ‘The Bottom Line’ will know I’ve had the occasional disagreement in the past with the Sandwell Express & Star – or our ‘friendly local paper’ as I’ve taken to calling it.
But credit where credit’s due.
I want today to congratulate the paper – and in particular one of its reporters, Alex Homer – for a story he wrote the other night about Education Minister Michael Gove and Sandwell’s Building Schools for the Future saga.
As far as I can see, he was the only reporter covering a visit by the Minister to Birmingham to quiz him over his disgraceful treatment of Sandwell’s young people by his axing of plans to re-build their crumbling high schools.
As a result, he was able to report that Mr Gove described the BSF fiasco as a “terrible mistake” – and took full responsibility for it.
The Star’s man was also able to raise with Mr Gove the issue of whether or not he would stick to his promise and come to visit Sandwell himself.
He didn’t get much of an answer, I’m guessing, because he was only able to report that “Mr Gove also refused to be drawn on whether he would be visiting the borough…”.
But at least the Star aired the issue in public, reminding readers who have followed the BSF saga that the Minister has so far failed to keep to his promise.
I’m grateful to the Star and its reporter for that.
In my view, they performed a public service.
For what it’s worth, I repeat my invitation to Mr Gove to come to Sandwell so he can explain to our young people, their parents and teachers why exactly they can’t have decent school buildings.
I’m sure he would be given a warm Sandwell welcome!