GUEST COLUMN: Good luck to new café, by Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero

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Ashfield has some really lovely parks which are great places for people to spend their leisure time.

This time can be made even better if there’s somewhere to stop for a cuppa, so it is good news for residents that Portland Park in Kirkby now has its own café.

The Fat Rabbit Café has been opened by Adam Bright and is located in the park’s former visitor centre.

I popped in with Ashfield District Council leader Cheryl Butler to see how business is going and we were pleased to hear that people have been flocking to it.

It is not easy setting up your own business and in small towns like Kirkby, it is so important that people show their support for shops and cafes by visiting and spending money.

I wish Adam every success and hope other budding entrepreneurs will be inspired to set up their own ventures and help our towns flourish.

We all know how important it is to stay active, but a lack of good facilities can make participating in sport more difficult than it should be.

I was therefore extremely pleased to hear that Ashfield District Council has been awarded a grant of £16,536 by the Football Foundation for tractors and equipment for local football pitches.

This money is from a fund which the Premier League and the FA both contribute to, so it is good to see these very rich organisations giving something back to grassroots projects. I am sure the football clubs that use the pitches appreciate it.

Many of you have written to me expressing your concerns about government plans to force all primary and secondary schools to become academies.

I share these concerns, not least because, in my view, the Tories seem more focused on reorganising school structures than they do in improving standards in our schools.

There are some very good schools in Ashfield and some that are getting the support they need to reach the required standards. However there is no proof that simply becoming an academy as part of a multi-academy trust leads to improvements.

Schools across England are facing a shortage of teachers, increasing class sizes, cuts in budgets in real terms and there are not enough good school places.

These are the areas that the Government needs to look at, not a costly and pointless reorganisation. I will be strongly opposing forced academisation.