Three councils launch BSF legal challenge

Aaron Morby 12 years ago
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Three councils have started legal proceedings against the Government over its decision to cut BSF funding.

Nottingham City, Luton and Waltham Forest Councils are each seeking a judicial review of Education Secretary Michael Gove’s move to scrap the £55bn BSF programme.

Labour-run Nottingham City Council said it was prepared to take “whatever actions are necessary” as it lodged papers in the Leeds Administrative Court requesting permission to apply for a judicial review.

The council said it has been handed a petition of more than 500 signatures calling for the council to challenge the decision to cut funding for the refurbishment of Top Valley and Trinity schools.

Nottingham claims the Government’s announcement in July was contrary to the council’s reasonable expectation that funding would be available after an outline business case for the schemes was approved in February.

The council also claims that the decision was irrational, in arbitrarily using 1 January 2010 as a cut-off date for stopping funding of BSF projects.

David Mellen, Nottingham City Council’s portfolio holder for children’s services, said: “We have sought counsel’s advice on whether to take legal action to resolve this dispute and our decision to push ahead with legal proceedings has not been taken lightly.”

The council is trying to minimise the cost of the legal case by taking the action jointly with Luton Borough Council, which also suffered as a result of the cuts.

Plans to rebuild and refurbish seven Luton schools were stopped as a result of the review, after the council spent £5.1m on business case studies.

In North London, Waltham Forest Council is also understood to have started legal action, warning the funding cut would have a catastrophic effect on pupils in the area.

A total of 16 schools in Waltham Forest missed out on multi-million pound rebuilding projects.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “We understand people’s disappointment but the BSF programme was wasteful, needlessly bureaucratic and seriously behind schedule.

“It would have been inexcusable to have continued with the programme. Ministers have been clear that the end of BSF is not the end of school rebuilding.

“That is why the government has launched a comprehensive review of all capital spending in schools so that money goes to those schools in most disrepair and to deal with the urgent demand for primary school places.”

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