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Respect attacks ESOL cuts, New Labour and Rushanara Ali

February 3, 2010

Respect candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow, Councillor Abjol Miah, today made an outspoken attack on the Labour government and council over cuts to courses offering English for Speakers of Other Languages. This comes in advance of a press conference being held by New Labour candidate Rushanara Ali this afternoon.

Statement from Councillor Abjol Miah

“One thousand ESOL places have been lost at Tower Hamlets College as a result of government cuts voted through by Labour councillors on the board of Tower Hamlets College including Councillor Abdal Ullah. Over twenty ESOL staff have been laid off and community centres where outreach ESOL courses were being taught adversely affected.

“Despite the fact Working Neighbourhoods Funding was secured for ESOL teaching, the Cabinet, of which Councillor Ullah is also a member, refused to channel this funding to the college which had a proven track record of quality ESOL provision. Rushanara Ali boasted she would talk to her friends Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson but still the cuts went ahead.

“ESOL has now been under attack from this government, of which Rushanara Ali would like to be such a loyal member in the unlikely event of her election, for three years. Unlike other adult courses, ESOL courses are means tested so that anyone earning over £17,000 has to pay £1,000 pounds per year to access an ESOL course. This is, of course, an impossible charge. And yet the government claims it wants to see more community cohesion. Enabling particularly women to learn English is essential to this and yet the government is making it harder for women in particular to access these essential courses.

Tomorrow night, Thursday, Tower Hamlets College Union has put on an ESOL Question Time for Tower Hamlets parliamentary candidates. I am going to be there but the union says Rushanara is yet to confirm. What is the problem? Surely her New Labour minders are not too frightened to put her up in front of an audience which will be justifiably angry at the hypocrisy shown by this government and this council over ESOL teaching.”

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