Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Councils take funding legal action

Two Labour-controlled councils are challenging Michael Gove's decision to scrap the Building Schools for the Future scheme in court

Legal action has been launched to challenge Education Secretary Michael Gove's decision to axe Labour's £55 billion school building programme.

Nottingham City Council said it was prepared to take "whatever actions are necessary" as it started a legal challenge to Mr Gove's decision to halt the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) initiative, which meant funding to refurbish two of the city's schools was cut.

Waltham Forest Council, in north east London, also launched legal action, saying the decision to pull the funding would have a "catastrophic effect" on pupils.

Mr Gove axed the BSF initiative in July, cancelling projects at more than 700 schools.

David Mellen, Nottingham City Council's portfolio holder for children's services, said: "The council has explored a number of options in order to secure funding to carry out the planned remodelling of Top Valley and Trinity schools which have been stopped.

"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."

Mr Mellen added: "Our decision to take legal proceedings demonstrates our commitment to taking whatever actions are necessary to overturn the decision."

He said the council would have preferred a negotiated solution but had received no response to his request to meet Mr Gove, and a petition of more than 5,000 signatures had called for the council to take action.

The Labour-run council has lodged papers in the Leeds Administrative Court requesting permission to apply for a judicial review of Mr Gove's decision to stop funding for Top Valley and Trinity schools and Top Valley Learning Centre.

Nottingham claims the July decision was contrary to the council's legitimate expectation that the funding would be forthcoming after the outline business case for the three schemes was approved in February.

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