At Cambridge City Council’s annual meeting on the 27th of May 2010 Lewis Herbert the leader of the Labour opposition group on Cambridge City Council put the following oral question to the Leader of Cambridge City Council Liberal Democrat Sian Reid:
What progress has the Council made in its campaign launched at the February Council meeting to oppose cuts in university funding, and what responses have been received including from local MPs?
Cllr Reid responded to say that following the full council motion in February the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, had announced extra funding increasing university intake for one year by 20,000 then falling back. She also told the council that following the election the Conservative Liberal Democrat coalition government announced that as part of their £6 billion cuts they would reduce those 20,000 planned extra places to 10,000.
In terms of the wider position Cllr Reid cited point 31 of the expanded coalition agreement she said that it expressed enthusiasm for higher education, and action to offer more college and university places. She said all were awaiting the results of Lord Browne’s “commission” into higher education funding. Cllr Reid said the outcome of that would be vigorously debated and: “the people of Cambridge will express their own views”.
Cllr Reid said: “We will make a case for what’s right for Cambridge and what’s right for the wider world”.
Lewis Herbert used his follow up question to ask: “Will the new Lib Dem MP be voting against the new cuts in higher education funding?” He was referring to the element of the motion from the February meeting in which the council had instructed the Leader and Chief Executive to write to local MPs and specifically asked: “Did she get a reply from her colleague?”.
Cllr Reid tried to dodge this question, by first saying: “I meet the new MP fairly regularly – I don’t have to write letters and receive replies”.
When pushed to report what Julian Huppert’s views were Cllr Reid admitted: “I have not asked him”.
Cllr Reid did note, slightly tangentially, that Julian Huppert has a track record opposing tuition fees.
Councillors later debated a motion on higher education funding which I will write about separately.