Councils take legal action over school building axe

By staff

Three Labour councils have asked for a judicial review of the government’s controversial decision to cancel the Building Schools for the Future programme.

The three local authorities – Nottingham, Luton and Waltham Forest – will look to overturn Michael Gove’s move to shelve the entire programme.

The councils’ argument centres on the suggestion that date for the cut-off of the programme, January 1st this year, was arbitrary. They also suggest the government had no basis for withdrawing the funding that the councils could reasonably expect.

Building Schools for the Future, the Labour initiative which ran at a cost of £55 billion, was one of the first programmes for the chop under the coalition government’s drive for efficiencies and deficit reduction.

At the time, Mr Gove argued that the programme was wasteful and beholden to funding commitments made by the previous government that could no longer be maintained.

Its cancellation was however deeply unpopular – a forerunner for potential reaction to the scale of cuts soon to be announced in the comprehensive spending review.

The beleaguered education secretary has repeatedly come under fire since he took office, with this legal action merely the latest in a stream of Labour-led assaults over academies, free schools and school building.