Friday, 19 March 2010

Tory axe hangs over £57m BSF money

As I said in Full Council last night: Darlington's hard won £57m from the Building Schools for the Future programme has an axe hanging over it if the Conservatives win the next General Election. Unless final contracts have been signed by May 6th, the Conservatives have made it clear that these schemes cannot be guaranteed.

We know the Conservatives intend to divert money away from capital investment programmes in education to fund the surplus places it needs to kick start its free school movement. Now, through the Times Education Supplement, we hear from the Conservative Party's Shadow Schools Minister, Nick Gibb, that in the event of a Conservative Government being formed after the next General Election, the completion of new BSF schemes will only be guaranteed if "Financial Close" has been reached.

If the final contracts aren't signed by the time of the election, there is no guarantee that the Conservatives will honour the existing arrangements. Now, Darlington's acceptance into the most recent wave of BSF funding streams happened last November. I understand from officers, and it was confirmed in Council last night, that the time scale from there to final contracts being signed will typically be about one year, which clearly takes us past the date of the next General Election.

The BSF programme has been hugely bureaucratic and inefficient, but the fact remains that Darlington has succeeded in winning £57m from it - and we want that money. We have three schools in desperate need of rebuilding or renovation: Hurworth, Branksome and Longfield. Parents of children at, or soon to start at, one of these three schools should be aware that there is a Conservative axe hanging over theses plans. If they, quite understandably, want to show their opposition to what the Labour Government has been doing, but at the same time want to protect the redevelopment of these local schools, there is only one choice: they have to vote Liberal Democrat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its absolutely shocking Mike… dam Tories! They’d even sell out there own grandmother. And you know it would be the North they’d hit the hardest first.