Friendly foes help school

EDUCATION Secretary David Blunkett and his Tory predecessor Gillian Shephard set aside party differences to spend a day together this week talking to teachers and pupils.

Indeed, the pair who spent many happy hours on the opposite sides of the dispatch box are on such good terms that Mr Blunkett - with dog Lucy - spent the night chez Shephard before the photo-opportunity tour of her Norfolk constituency.

They arrived together in the village of Weeting, for the opening of a pound;1.2m primary school. It was co-operation between the political rivals that ensured the new building went ahead when the last election cas a shadow over its future.

As he unveiled a plaque for the official opening, Mr Blunkett explained that Mrs Shephard, when she was education secretary, had come to his rescue when he asked for help to rebuild a youth centre destroyed by fire.

He said he returned the favour by ensuring the plans for Weeting C of E primary, once two dilapidated timber-frame classroom blocks and a condemned classroom, went ahead.

"I think you got the better part of the deal," he joked with Mrs Shephard.

Mrs Shephard later reported that her two cats had got on very well with Mr Blunkett's faithful hound Lucy.

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