A Timely Reform by Ian Ridley

Blog & web site of Ian Ridley

Nick Harvey voices Lib Dem fears about school buildings cuts

Nick Harvey MPLib Dem Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey MP wants  a speedy review of alternative funding sources for schools that have lost out in the cuts to the school buildings budget.

And he’s written to the Tory Education Minister Michael Gove to point that out.

A few choice quotes are:

“I accept that putting these projects on hold in light of the current deficit, or pending a review of how to achieve best value from such a programme, can be justified but that does not mean that the basic problem of inadequate school buildings disappears.”

“It is important for the morale of the students, staff, governors and the wider community that the real and obvious need for these buildings to be replaced is acknowledged, and that alternative and transparent mechanisms be put in place at the earliest practical moment. I also think that such a course of action is important to the credibility of the Government, as unnecessary delay will only breed an atmosphere of cynicism.”

I knew that the Lib Dem Youth & Students (now Liberal Youth) action week in North Devon in 2006 was a good investment of my time.

Nick is yet another voice in the growing chorus of concern at the cuts. It is not so much that the brakes have been put on, it is the lack of clarity about alternative sources.

I am governor at a Primary School and a lack of refurbishment/ building updates would have meant that our energy bills would have continued to be an increasingly large and uncertain part of the budget. In the last few years we have seen window replacements and special tiling for the (flat) roof, which appears to be saving some money. Not all doors and windows have been replaced and no doubt this winter there will still be many ways for heat to escape.

When budgets are stretched, large-scale rebuilds may have to be scaled back, but there is plenty that can be done with modern materials to improve existing buildings or extend schools to replace temporary huts.

Liberal Democrats need to keep on the case with this policy. Gove should not be allowed to simply stop all school building projects regardless of need.

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