Opinion: Aftermath of BSF bombshell

Aaron Morby 14 years ago

Much has been said about the Building Schools for the Future programme in recent days and none of it has been very flattering.

If the BSF bashing commentaries are to be believed it stands as Labour’s biggest error of judgement since weapons of mass destruction.

According to axe-swinging education secretary Michael Gove no school should ever have been built under such a programme in the first place.

He has savaged BSF claiming buildings have had to be knocked down because corridors were too narrow, badly-fitted school doors swung open in strong winds and air conditioning systems failed to work.

The charge is that BSF failed the country because it could not deliver quality buildings.

There may be isolated examples of shortcomings in the build quality, but this sweeping conclusion is utter nonsense.

It is misleading to use a few picky anecdotes to rubbish the real achievements of BSF.

At times it was too bureaucratic, and contractors were frustrated by painfully slow progress at the outset, but wasteful and botched, it was not.

BSF has delivered high quality schools. Modern buildings that are designed and delivered to give future generations the best possible learning environment.

These so-called “botched” schools are fitted with 21st century ICT systems so that kids can get a taste of the speed at which technology and the world is changing around them.

History will judge BSF as a golden age of school building that was too short-lived, not as a complete waste of money.

Was wasteful form filling a good reason to can BSF? Absolutely not.

Whatever we are told, it is clear that BSF has been killed off because of the need to cut spending not because it needed to be done another way.

To argue otherwise is misleading and a slur on the achievements of the programme.

Like all major Government capital spending programmes, BSF was slow to get going but it had clicked into cruise mode when the axe fell.

Now the experience gained through a planned programme of investment will be lost.

Building teams who had built up extensive knowledge about how to deliver schools cost-effectively are being disbanded. Local authority commitment and know-how will also disappear along with precious programme momentum.

The cost of cancelling BSF will not be known for some time, but hundreds of millions of pounds have been wasted.

In its place, the industry is promised a radical review. A board of mainly high street retailers and Sir John Egan will now pronounce on how to do things better.

This exercise in seeking greater value for money looks like playing for time.

The brutal fact is a quality school building programme is being replaced by a lick-of-paint schools policy which has been dreamed up to deal with the deficit crisis not because of the shortcomings of all those who worked hard to deliver BSF.

We can only hope that the son of BSF inherits some of the traits of its predecessor.

Latest news

Plan in for £3bn Lincolnshire mega data centre

3.3m sq ft Humber Tech Park will be one of Europe's largest data centres
1 day ago

Green light for Digbeth 1,300 homes scheme

Warner’s Fields scheme to start with excavation and landscaping of the River Rea
1 day ago

Flagship biodiversity net gain scheme flawed

NAO warns Government's flagship green development scheme at risk of failure
1 day ago

£210m M3 Junction 9 upgrade gains consent

VolkerFitzpatrick to start work in early 2025 on Winnall roundabout, near Winchester
1 day ago

United Living wins 14-year L&Q homes repairs deal

Trafford housing upkeep deal worth £205m
1 day ago

£400m Lewisham resi-led scheme advances

Land deal paves way for Amro Partners' 1,000-home London scheme
1 day ago

McLaren gets go-ahead for Grade II listed Leeds student scheme

Springfield House to be revamped and two new wings added
1 day ago

Piling giant to fit people alarms on all rigs

Cementation Skanska upgrades site safety systems
1 day ago

Vistry to make £800m profit after subcontractor cost cuts

House builder bullish about shareholder returns after asking suppliers for discounts
2 days ago

Shareholders approve £2.5bn Barratt and Redrow merger

Final hurdle is for the competition regulator to approve the deal.
2 days ago

Green light for £80m Leith waterfront revamp

Build-to-rent homes and student accommodation scheme to be built
2 days ago

Tilbury Douglas clears Interserve legacy jobs to return to profit

Revenue tops £500m in first year as standalone contractor
3 days ago

Land deal paves way for Manchester civil service office hub

Government buys five acres at former Central Retail Park
2 days ago

Speller Metcalfe wins Wolverhampton library upgrade

Full works are due to start in the autumn
2 days ago

Skills shortage puts big infrastructure projects at risk

Government failing as an intelligent client and now over-reliant on consultancies
3 days ago

Contractors face further insulation board price hikes

Cost of PIR insulation boards set to rise another 10%
3 days ago

Henry Boot wins £36m Rotherham Markets job

Project involves upgrading existing market and building a new library
3 days ago

Keltbray hires new head of infrastructure procurement

Lukasz Olszewski will oversee rail, energy and highways business units
3 days ago

Tunnel fit out robot to revolutionise civils work

Costain and VVB Engineering part of innovative consortium
3 days ago

Funding deal for £86m wind turbine test centre

Latest investment at National Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth
4 days ago

Plan in for Manchester ‘upside-down’ 18-storey tower

Landmark cantilevered NXQ building plan for city Northern Quarter
4 days ago

London 25km Super Sewer hooked up for commissioning

Tideway completes connection to existing Lee Tunnel sewer system
4 days ago

£200m Lincoln ring-road approved

North Hykeham Relief Road granted planning permission
4 days ago

£1bn Manchester Airport City plan rebooted as new sci-tech hub

Plan pivots from offices to science and manufacturing campus, called MIX Manchester
5 days ago

Record results at maintenance specialist Renew

Infrastructure maintenance work continues to pay off for contractor
4 days ago

Barhale lands £21m shaft scheme for Thames Water

Civils specialist bags latest upgrade deal on Thames Water Ring Main
4 days ago

Caddick names new north east director

Former Laing O'Rourke project lead joins Yorkshire contractor
4 days ago

Mount Anvil wins London Camden estate rebuild

Deverloper wins £133m Bacton Phase 2 development in Gospel Oak
5 days ago

London Met Uni seeks firm for £280m estate upgrade

A single partner contractor will deliver 10-year building upgrade plan
5 days ago

Top 30 M&E contractors set for growth – ranking

Growth in data centres and commercial refits creates optimism for year ahead
5 days ago

Contractor services