Tin helmets at the ready for ministers who cross our line

Oxford Mail: . .

SOME days it can seem like it is the Government versus the rest of us.

The man on the street – and the woman, too – often grumbles about what they are up to... even if the people in the corridors of power are trying their very best.

But here in Oxfordshire recently, secretaries of state have been getting up people’s noses.

First, there was Eric Pickles, who told Oxfordshire County Council that it could do a better job of managing its budget.

He took a verbal battering from council leader Ian Hudspeth, and many others, over a funding arrangement that, it was feared at one stage, would close most of the county’s children’s centres.

Now Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has entered the fray – threatening to turn six primaries into academies if they don’t improve.

He is not worried about the council’s budgets, but he says he does care about standards of education.

Who could disagree with him?

High standards are essential.

But the spectre raises itself again of a Government minister wading in on a local issue and rubbing people up the wrong way.

Some schools clearly think that, anyway.

Mr Gove, of course, may well have his heart in the right place.

But not everyone is convinced that academies are the solution to every problem, and statistics suggest that they do not always work.

We wait to see whether the schools will keep him happy.

In the meantime for Mr Gove, the next time he is in Oxfordshire, he may well need to keep his head down.

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