12 July 2010

Lambeth politicans condemn central government's school building cuts

Lambeth Labour politicians have condemned cuts in school funding being proposed by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government.

The Schools Minister Michael Gove has announced that the Building Schools for the Future programme is to be scrapped. The programme, established by the Labour government, provided funding for schools for major building works to begin to address years of underinvestment. Five schools in the borough have already received funding which has made them far better places in which students could learn.

The cuts in funding will leave many children in Lambeth learning in cramped school classrooms which are unhealthy and not fit for purpose. The move by central government also means that Lambeth's plans to provide more school places for local children will probably have to be cut back.

In total 11 schools across the borough have had their building works curtailed or cancelled including Charles Edward Brooke, Stockwell Park High, Archbishop Tenison and Lansdowne schools in or near Vassall Ward.

Lambeth's Cabinet Member for Education Councillor Pete Robbins said “We are incredibly disappointed at the decision to pull the plug on what are much needed projects. Some of these schools are in an incredibly poor condition with children in temporary classrooms.We put a lot of money, time and effort to create designs for these eight secondary schools and now that's all gone.The whole point was to create more secondary school places for every child in Lambeth. We were days away from creating 240 more places.There are three that are still up in the air. We are now in a position we were a going to have to fight for as much money as possible for these projects.”

Councillor Robbins called on Lambeth Liberal Democrats and Conservatives to put pressure behind the scenes to try and see if the funding could be safeguarded as all political parties on Lambeth Council recognise the need to invest in the borough's children. The Lib Dem Deputy Leader (and Southwark MP) Simon Hughes has sought to distance his party from the policy and it is known that many Lib Dem members are unhappy at the cuts to schools in particular.

Vassall Ward Councillors Adrian Garden and Kingsley Abrams were united in their condemnation of the cuts saying "Young people in Vassall and across Lambeth will be hit hard by these cuts and may not be able to achieve their full potential at school."