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Balls hails councillor's defection over BSF cuts

Labour leadership contender Ed Balls has welcomed the defection of a senior Conservative councillor over the scrapping of the Building Schools for the Future programme.

Elaine Costigan, deputy leader of the Sandwell Council Conservative Group, has joined the Labour party citing education secretary Michael Gove’s decision to abandon the £55 billion construction scheme.

Sandwell Council was originally included by Mr Gove on a list of councils whose projects would go ahead, only for him to admit this was a mistake and the work would indeed be stopped.

Ms Costigan said: “The sudden withdrawal of funding for new schools the day after it was confirmed, the refusal to listen to local people and the secretary of state’s breaking of his promise to apologise to the parents, pupils and staff, all show a government that does not seem to care about this community.”

Mr Balls, who was schools secretary for the former Labour government, said: “I know from my own visit to the borough that there is anger in Sandwell, as there is around the country, about the tragic cuts to Labour’s school building programme.”