Hackney council boss 'obsessed'

Hackney's schools have been subjected to a "reign of chaos" under a chief executive who is "a public school bully masquerading as an East End barrow-boy," a Labour MP claimed in the House of Commons last night.

Brian Sedgemore, MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, raised the issue in a late-night debate after a government improvement team sent into the borough ran into conflict with local officials.

Hackney council was eventually persuaded to bring in a new head for its education department - one of the recommendations of the team - after the schools minister, Stephen Byers, intervened.

However, Mr Sedgemore said more resources were needed to turn round Hackney's schools. If Labour regained power in the borough from a Tory and Liberal Democrat coalition next May it should seek to have the chief executive, Tony Elliston, sacked, he said.

Mr Elliston had declared war on the Government in a radio interview after the improvement team suggested a new education structure for Hackney, Mr Sedgemore said. "He sounded like a man who had just had electro-shock therapy which had gone wrong and as if his brain was about to explode," the MP claimed.

Mr Elliston was "obsessed with vacuous sociological jargon which "reads like a menu for a Harvester Restaurant and which was viewed by head teachers as plain idiotic," Mr Sedgemore said.

Mr Byers said the Government would have intervened more strongly if it had had the powers to do so. It planned to introduce such powers later this week.

He said there was also concern at a pounds 3m overspend on education in the borough, and applicants for the new education director's post were to be vetted by the improvement team because the Government had no confidence in the authority.

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