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Council Spends £15 million Every Year Maintaining PFI While Closing Schools

George Adam MSPThe Cabinet Secretary for Education, Mike Russell MSP, has confirmed that PFI payments have mortgaged the future of our children.  Answering a question in Parliament by George Adam – it was confirmed that this year alone Renfrewshire will make a PFI payment of £15 million, enough to build a brand new school every year.  This comes as a back drop of Renfrewshire Council’s plans to close schools throughout the local authority.

Speaking on the revelation, George said:

‘These payments that we as tax payers have to make are clearly not value for money.  You don’t have to take my word for it you can listen to the Treasury Committee of Westminster for confirmation.

‘This year alone a payment of £15 million will be made with this amount increasing every year, receiving nothing in return.

‘Excessive profits have been made by the private sector with PFI contracts, mistakes have been made.

‘I agree with the Cabinet Secretary that before closing schools in Renfrewshire the Convenor of Education in the council should ensure that parents are informed of the £15 million they spend getting absolutely nothing in return.  That’s £15 million every year for 30 years.  That’s a pay day loan on a level that is incomprehensible to most people.’

Renfrewshire Council SNP Group Leader Brian Lawson commented, ‘What makes matters worse is that some of these schools, built and run for profit by the private sector, each costing nearly a million pounds each and every year, are running at just over 50% capacity. Renfrewshire Labour are paying vast amounts of money for empty classrooms’.

 

Renfrewshire Council Must Follow Legal Standards

George Adam MSPThe re-organisation of school estates in Renfrewshire was discussed in the Scottish Parliament this week.  The Cabinet Secretary for education, Mike Russell MSP, was questioned by Paisley’s MSP about the proper process that should be followed when local authorities are reviewing educational facilities.

 After questioning the Cabinet secretary George said;

 ‘It is essential that full scrutiny and all relevant statutory processes are followed when reviewing local authorities educational estates.  The Cabinet Secretary agreed with me and I have voiced my concerns on the record in Parliament about what is happening within Renfrewshire Council.

 ‘The review and council consultation being undertaken by Labour in Renfrewshire must ensure that correct procedures are adhered to.  This is not only to ensure that parents and the children have full confidence in any of the proposed changes but to ensure that legal challenges do not emerge.

 ‘The information that I have had to gather myself from the council has raised some questions.

 ‘There are claims that shutting a school and moving the pupils to another school is not actually a school closure.

 ‘There are also concerns that the pupils being moved in to an existing school is not the model of shared campuses that we know.  Here in Renfrewshire purpose built schools were built to house shared campuses, differing educational facilities with other shared aspects.

 ‘These concerns are troubling.

 ‘We must ensure that any consultation is a real consultation, I would advise every parent to follow what is happening to their school, do not get caught out by changes that surprise you when the consultation process ends.’

Extract from the Scottish Parliament’s Official Report.

 

 School Estates

 

3. George Adam (Paisley) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Government what statutory duties local education authorities must consider when reorganising school estates. (S4O-02344)

 

The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning (Michael Russell): Under the Education (Scotland) Act 1980, education authorities have a duty to ensure the

 

“adequate and efficient provision of school education”

 

in their area.

 

The Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010 sets out the consultation process that an education authority must—and I stress “must”—follow when it is proposing changes to its school estate, such as school closures, relocations and changes to catchment areas.

 

George Adam: Does the cabinet secretary share my concern about the rationalisation of the school estate throughout the Renfrewshire Council area and the Labour-led council’s strategy to avoid statutory requirements? Is that not a prime example of how Labour is determined to make the closure of schools a much easier process?

 

Michael Russell: I understand that Renfrewshire Council plans to carry out a preliminary consultation on a range of options for reorganisation of its school estate. I encourage George Adam’s constituents to respond to the consultation so that their views can be taken into account.

 

Where a council decides to take forward a relevant proposal under the 2010 act to close or relocate a school, there must be no doubt that there is a clear statutory consultation process that it must—I repeat “must”—follow.

 

I expect Renfrewshire Council—and every council—to follow the law and engage in an open and honest discussion with the community that it serves about any school closure proposal. I also expect educational benefit for the affected children to be central to any and every such proposal.

 

Link – http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28862.aspx?r=8467&mode=pdf