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Les Wicks defends decade in charge of schools in Medway

Sacked: Cabinet member for children's services Les Wicks
Sacked: Cabinet member for children's services Les Wicks

Sacked Les Wicks has defended his decade in charge of Medway’s schools.

The 74-year-old councillor, a one-time Conservative group leader, was dropped from his role last week.

It followed high-profile failings, including vast overspends on school expansions, botched 11-plus tests and the worst Year 6 results in the country.

Under his watch, falling rolls forced Chatham’s Ridge Meadow Primary to close, only for a new Chatham school to be needed a short time later.

By the end he was constantly being attacked but refused to apologise. About 800 people signed a Labour-led petition calling for his resignation.

Asked if he was treated fairly, the retired teacher said: “I thought it became personal rather than the issues [but] I don’t use the word ‘fair’.

“I came into politics in 1979 with Maggie Thatcher. I was a school teacher and you as kids used to say ‘that’s not fair’ and as a teacher I always said ‘life’s not fair’.

"I’ve certainly done my best for young people in Medway."

“I’m very proud of the fact we’ve got three very good academy schools... I’m proud of the University Technical College and I’m proud we have 19 Sure Start centres. I’m proud we improved the premises of primary schools. So yes I’m proud of what we’ve done.”

Cllr Wicks joined Medway Council’s cabinet in 2000 in charge of recreation and soon moved to be in charge of schools.

He was deselected by his party members in Strood Rural ward in 2010, but was chosen to fight Rainham South instead.

Despite ongoing criticism, Cllr Wicks insisted his legacy would be a good one – and made a bold claim.

He said: “I put some stuff in place to make sure we did better but the results don’t come out until October.

"By then I hope everyone celebrates, and do remember the lead-up to those exam results I was responsible for.

“I’m still a councillor and I intend to carry on being a councillor. I’ve certainly done my best for young people in Medway.”

Council leader Cllr Rodney Chambers refused to be interviewed about the cabinet changes, which he made on Wednesday.

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