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Denis Healy 'flabbergasted' as highlighting soaring number of stressed teachers 'obnoxious'

February 28, 2018 4:19 PM
By admin

Hull Daily Mail's Angus Young reports on East Riding of Yorkshire Council's full monthly meeting.

An East Riding councillor says he's "flabbergasted" at criticism over an attempt to highlight the number of teachers on long-term stress leave.  Liberal Democrat Denis Healy raised the issue in a motion at the authority's full monthly meeting.

But the ruling Conservative group used its majority to vote through an amendment which deleted his call for a letter to be sent to education secretary Damian Hinds outlining concerns over the matter. The amendment also removed his reference to a 39 per cent increase in East Riding teachers on long-term stress leave in 2016/17 compared to the previous year. Overall, 106 teachers were off with long-term stress during the year.

Instead, the amendment simply recognised an increase in stress-related sickness absence among teachers and recommended the council's children and young people scrutiny sub-committee look at ways of improving staff well-being. At the same time, Conservative councillors lined up to attack Cllr Healy.

Tory Councillor Bryan Pearson claimed there was "no basic truth" in the figures quoted in his motion - even though they were provided by the council itself in response to a Freedom of Information request.

Describing the motion as "spurious and obnoxious", he told Cllr Healy: "Stop bleating about it".

Tory scrutiny sub-committee chairman Councillor Kerri Harold accused him of being "negative" while education portfolio holder Julie Abraham claimed his comparisons with other authority's sickness rates were not valid. The only words of praise came from Labour Councillor Paul Hogan.

He said: "We need this issue to be taken seriously at national level." Cllr Healy said some of the criticism levelled at him and his motion was "completely uncalled for".

He added: "I am flabbergasted. I don't know what planet they are living on if they seriously think I am criticising teachers. Nothing could be further from the truth. My motion actually recognised all their hard work and commitment and thanked them for their efforts."

"I feel quite hurt when I hear worlds like 'obnoxious' and 'spurious' . This wasn't intended to be political but an expression of genuine concern. To have it twisted so that it appears to be somehow criticising the teachers of the East Riding is shameful."