MP disappointed by school building cancellation

Nick Harvey will keep fighting for Ilfracombe and Chulmleigh projects

NORTH Devon MP Nick Harvey has pledged to continue the campaign for new schools in Chulmleigh and Ilfracombe, projects which were cancelled along with the rest of the Building Schools for the Future programme by Education Secretary Michael Gove this week.

Mr Harvey, Armed Forces Minister in the coalition Government, said local councillors had been stung by the announcement after working hard to promote claims for major investment in the schools.

He said: “Given the scale of Government budget cuts, it is inevitable that many uncomfortable decisions will need to be taken in the coming months and it is fair to say BSF was overly bureaucratic.

“Nevertheless, this cut is particularly unfortunate given the dismal level of central Government support given to Devon schools by successive Governments that have chosen to invest more heavily in the leafy suburbs and inner cities than in our local schools.”

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Mr Harvey said both Chulmleigh and Ilfracombe Community Colleges were to have been built under the Private Finance Initiative, so the effect on the Government’s balance sheet would have been minimal.

A review was under way to assess how future capital investment in schools could deliver best value for money.

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Mr Harvey continued: “I shall be contacting Secretary Gove and working with him so that both Chulmleigh and Ilfracombe are considered as priorities when these alternative funding schemes are available.

“The problem of dilapidated schools will not just simply go away and investing in our children’s futures is surely one of the best investments we can make.”

Ilfracombe Liberal Democrat county councillor Geoff Fowler said he was bitterly disappointed that the new school project for the town had been cancelled.

“As a town, we have a great deal riding on this project and the loss of funding will have a knock-on effect on other developments to improve facilities for local students and residents.

“This is a crucial part of the regeneration that Ilfracombe urgently needs. A great deal of time and effort has already been spent working up the plans.”

County councillor Joe Tucker, whose ward includes Chulmleigh, said it was a sad day for the pupils, parents and staff of the community college.

“Having successfully fought to get the ancient leaky huts removed and the centre of the site cleared for the re-build, it is disappointing that this has now been kicked into the very long grass.

“Even though the new mobile classrooms are a huge improvement on the old units, they were only ever to be a short-term measure while Government funding was pursued.”

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