Building Schools for the Future

July 13, 2010

Last week the Education Secretary Michael Gove announced which projects under the ‘Building Schools For the Future’ (BSF) funding pot would be saved and which ones would be scrapped. All our Rochdale Borough projects are saved which is fantastic news!  Our new Rochdale Labour MP and our new Conservative Deputy Leader of the Council appeared on the front page of our local paper to take credit. But readers have not been given the true reason about why the £175 million school rebuilding program is to go ahead in Rochdale Borough, while elsewhere across the country schemes are being scrapped.

It’s not because Rochdale is a deprived borough, it’s not that the Council made a good case to government, and it’s not because our school buildings needed renovating any more than in other boroughs.

The reason is that in 2006 the new Lib Dem Cabinet and Council Officers grasped the opportunity to apply for the BSF money. We were one of the first councils in the country to go for it and over the next three years drew up plans, selected a development partner and made sure that all the contracts were signed before February 2010, when it became clear that all big capital spending programmes would come under review after the General Election.

Anybody who is familiar with the huge bureaucracy associated with the BSF programme will appreciate that our success in 2010 was only possible because of decisive decision making and thorough planning during the last four years while the Liberal Democrats were running the Council.

We had to take difficult and controversial decisions. BSF required school closures and mergers – for example we had to take the very difficult decision to close both Springhill and Balderstone and merge the two into a new school. A new academy school, St Anne’s, needed to be set up. On every occasion we were roundly criticized by the two opposition parties.

Any delays along the way and we would now be ringing our hands.

The implementation of the new building programme is still at the very beginning, but the most difficult stages of planning and decision making are now behind us. It is very easy to take credit in hindsight. It is much more difficult to take the right decision at the right time and ride the storms of opposition. It takes vision and leadership and the Liberal Democrats had both.



  1. […] Building Schools for the Future July 2010 5 […]

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