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Councils' plea over scrapped BSF schemes

Councils have called for cancelled Building Schools for the Future projects to be eligible for submission under its replacement programme.

The Local Government Association said more than £160 million had been spent by local authorities preparing for projects that have been cancelled.

A task force is due to recommend a replacement procurement programme to the Government before Christmas, and the LGA said whatever comes next should build on work already carried out under BSF.

Shireen Ritchie, chair of the children and young people’s board at the LGA, said: “Councils cannot now send good money after bad, so any future plans for school rebuilding should use preparatory work which has been done already as far as is practical.”

BSF required councils to carry out detailed public consultation and to recruit and commission designers and architects ahead of programmes being approved.

Town halls had to negotiate 60 separate documents, submit strategic overviews to the Government and create project boards to oversee their submissions.

A survey carried out by the LGA found that £161.4m had been spent by 67 authorities getting ready for scrapped schemes.

Ms Ritchie added: “The process was over-bureaucratic and wasted councils’ time and money, but the key issue is that around 700 schools and 80 councils now have to deal with plans being cancelled and scaled back.

“In these times of tight public spending no-one expects the Government to sign a blank cheque, but there are clearly some schools which need to take priority over others and get access to money for building work.”