Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Decision to Axe New Schools Was Unlawful; North MP Welcomes Court Ruling

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Decision to Axe New Schools Was Unlawful; North MP Welcomes Court Ruling

Article excerpt

Byline: Nicola Juncar

EDUCATION Secretary Michael Gove acted "unlawfully" when he cancelled a programme that would have built a number of new schools in the North East, a court ruled yesterday.

The judgment came after a case in which six councils elsewhere in the country took Mr Gove to the High Court over his decision to axe the pounds 55bn Building Schools for the Future (BSF) scheme.

The Education Secretary was told he must reconsider his decision after it was ruled in five of the six cases to be a failure "so unfair as to amount to an abuse of power".

A North East MP last night welcomed the ruling, but told parents not to get their hopes up that it would result in local re-building schemes being resurrected.

Tynemouth MP Alan Campbell said: "It always seemed that Mr Gove's plans to scrap BSF were arbitrary and politically-motivated and MPs have now asked that he makes an urgent statement to address what this means for schools.

"The judgment has shown the decision to stop BSF funding was flawed, but I am not confident that it will lead to projects being revisited.

"The judgement was particularly strong in its criticism of Mr Gove's actions, saying it was an abuse of power, which I would have to agree with.

"In North Tyneside, in particular, every project had to be pulled and almost pounds 2m had already been spent by the council on the plans."

Six councils - Waltham Forest, Luton, Nottingham, Sandwell, Kent and Newham - took legal action against Mr Gove, accusing him of being too hasty to wield the axe. Their victory means the BSF projects for these local authorities will be reconsidered.

North Tyneside Council was at the "outline business case" stage and had spent pounds 1.96m when BSF was scrapped.

Its BSF proposals included new build projects at Longbenton Community College, Marden High School and Southlands School, as well as refurbishment plans for Churchill Community College, Seaton Burn College and Norham Technology College. …

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