Sunday, 28 October 2012

Fingerprinting of School Children - letter to NWN

I wrote the following letter to the Newbury Weekly News last week. It did not get published - they printed a letter that I had sent the previous week for the second time!

Dear Editor,

it is reasonable and understandable for parents to be suspicious and concerned when asked to permit their children to be be fingerprinted by schools ("Anger as fingerprinting introduced at school", NWN, October 18th).

Parents should therefore be given the option of not allowing their children to be fingerprinted without disadvantaging them. Their children must still be allowed to be served school meals.

Parents are concerned that the fingerprints may be used for other purposes. Also, there have been occasions in the past when the computer databases holding details of such fingerprints have been hacked into. Schools must therefore assure parents that:

- fingerprints and associated data will only be used for school meal identification purposes

- the databases that hold the fingerprint data have state-of-the art security preventing unauthorised access.

Both schools that have introduced, or are proposing to use, fingerprints are academies. However,  West Berkshire Council have responsibilities as community leader and should therefore advise all schools in the district on best practice on the use of this technology.

--

Alan Macro
Opposition Spokesman for Children and Young People
West Berkshire Council

Monday, 22 October 2012

Tankers outside sewage pumping station in Church St, Theale

Tankers have been pumping out the sewer pumping station in Church Street, Theale, for most of the day. I spoke to one of the Thames Water engineers who was on site. He told me that there had been a pump blockage but they were having difficulty removing the pump to fix it. However, he expected the problem to be fixed by tonight.

Alan Macro
Councillor for Theale
West Berkshire Council

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Permission has been granted for 9 houses and 3 flats on old Theale Motor Works site


Planning permission was given on 8th October for 12 dwellings on the old Theale Motor Works site:

Four 2-bed houses
Five 3-bed houses
One 2-bed apartment
Two 1-bed apartments

The site is behind the "Clock House" in Theale High Street and accessed off Station Road.

Alan Macro
Councillor for Theale
West Berkshire Council

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Thursday, 18 October 2012

Latest on school fingerprinting and school meals contract

Trinity School, the school that wanted to use fingerprints to identify children for school meals, has its own school meals contract. It does not partake in West Berkshire Council's school meals contract.

ISS, West Berkshire Council's school meals contractor, does not use biometric data, such as fingerprints, to identify children. It uses a device called the Cyberpad. However, Cyberpads have proved very problematic in West Berkshire's schools. This, and several other problems, have led to the council calling a default on the new contract.

Alan Macro
Councillor for Theale
West Berkshire Council

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Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Latest on fingerprinting of Newbury schoolchildren

The original complaint was from a parent of a child at Trinity School, Newbury.

I have just had an update from West Berkshire Council's Education Service. Trinity School make their own arrangements for school meals. They do not use West Berkshire Council's school meals provision. Schoolchild fingerprinting  must therefore be a Trinity School requirement and nothing to do with the new West Berkshire Council ISS-provided school meals contract.

Apparently, Kennet School in Thatcham has been using "biometric" identification for school lunches for some time.

Both Trinity and Kennet schools are now academies, so neither the council nor councillors have much influence on what they do.

Alan Macro
Councillor for Theale

West Berkshire Council
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Monday, 8 October 2012

Parents asked to consent to have their children fingerprinted

I heard to day that letter went out to parents of schoolchildren on Friday asking for permission for their children to be fingerprinted today (Monday 8th October) or on Wednesday. Children would not be able to have school meals if they had not been fingerprinted on either of these days.

I'm trying to find out:

  • Who authorised this
  • Why the notice period was so short
  • Why no alternative arrangements are being made for children are not happy about their children being fingerprinted.
I presume that the requirement is being imposed by the new school meals contractor.

Alan Macro
Councillor for Theale

West Berkshire Council
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Tuesday, 2 October 2012

High Street gas main replacement postponed until new year

Southern Gas Networks have just informed me that the replacement of the gas mains in the main part of the High Street has been postponed until early next year. They will just finish the part between Hoad Way and the M4 for now.

The postponement is because there have been some delays which meant that they would not have been able to finish the work before the Christmas lights switch-on event on December 1st.

Unfortunately, this will also mean that the resurfacing of Church Street between Englefield Road and Church Street will be delayed for even longer. Otherwise, the newly resurfaced part between Crown Lane and Station Road would have been dug up again by the gas contractor.

Alan Macro
Councillor for Theale
West Berkshire Council

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Monday, 1 October 2012

Rubbish collections return to Andrews Close

I am pleased to say that, following my intervention on behalf of a resident, dustbins will be emptied as normal  in Andrews Close from today.

Normal dustbin collections were suspended over a year ago after a bin lorry collided with a parked car. Residents had to wheel their bins to the junction with Crown Lane. This caused problems for some elderly residents, though other residents have been helping them.

The parking bay that car was parked in was removed a few months ago, meaning that its now safer for the bin lorries to turn into the close.


Alan Macro
Councillor for Theale
West Berkshire Council

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