Land sales could fund axed BSF projects

13th August 2010 at 01:00

Liverpool City Council is considering selling off land to help pay for secondary school building projects cancelled by the Government.

Last month, Education Secretary Michael Gove halted the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, leaving many local authorities unable to fund school rebuilding plans.

Liverpool was among the hardest-hit by the cuts - it had been due to receive #163;350 million to rebuild or refurbish 26 secondary schools. Just two will now receive money as they are set to become academies.

Councillor Jane Corbett, Liverpool's cabinet member for education, said: "We are looking at everything in the city. We are already talking to big financial institutions, as well as local businesses, to help come up with the funds we need. This also includes looking into selling off parts of our own estate."

As previously reported in The TES, the council is one of several authorities considering legal action against the Government to recoup money spent developing BSF plans.

"We have not dismissed the idea of legal action, but our primary concern is trying to secure what we can for the young people in this area," Cllr Corbett said.

Two weeks ago, the city council's leader Joe Anderson met schools minister Lord Hill to ask the Government for #163;175 million - half the cash the council needs to build its schools. If the council is successful, it will then try to raise the rest of the money from the private sector and its land sale.

Last week, Mr Gove approved building plans for an extra 77 schools across England. Following its scrapping of BSF, the Department for Education will review plans for 152 schools. It will provide funding for 44 academies and a further 33 "sample" schools that had already been fully designed.

The other 75 schools may receive some funding, if October's comprehensive spending review permits.

Mr Gove said: "I'm delighted that the sample schools and academy projects are going ahead ... I know how hard councils and schools have worked on these projects and I have been anxious to ensure we can do everything we can, in difficult economic times, to support the crucial work of raising educational standards."

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