Monday, 19 October 2009

Downing Street fob off

I signed a petition recently about the funding for KGV. The Prime Minister has now graciously replied see below

This is just a fob-off. Yet again a Labour Governement has concerntrated their funding into a marginal Labour seat. (Mind you the spectacular collapse of Labour in W Lancs it must suggest it is a lost cause. But Gordon never gives up even when the evidence is against him)

Ever since VIth Form education was nationalised and the funding administered by a government quango, disasters like this have become inevitable. Instead of seeking to control every decision from Whitehall central government has got to learn to accept that locally elected people dealing with local matters will make better decisions and be more effectively accountable to local people. They must stop trying to micro manage everything that moves and give local people the right to raise and spend the money to provide local services. At present less than a quarter of local expenditure is raised locally, the rest comes from Whitehall and he who pays the piper plays the tune.

If local government had made the spectacular cock-up that the LSC has made of funding building projects then there would have been hell and all to pay. The difference would be that it would be locally elected people making the decision and they would be accountable to local people who could get rid of them at the ballot box

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to RELEASE the funding for King George V sixth form college refurbishment.”
Details of Petition:
“Southport’s flagship sixth form college is in turmoil after being told it cannot have the funding promised for a £40m facelift. KGV was originally told it was getting a £39.6m grant - and spent £2m getting preparatory work underway. The government, blaming the Learning and Skills council for over-committing, axed most of the rebuilding grants promised to colleges around England. This month (June)13 colleges were told that their funding had been finally been found. KGV was not in that first wave. Now, with students put up in portakabin accommodation,and parts of the grounds dug up, KGV has no idea when it can expect the cash … if at all. Sign this petition and demand a change of heart.”

Downing Street's fob off:

Thank you for your e-petition. On the 28 August 2009, following the conclusion of its prioritisation exercise, the Learning and Skills Council confirmed that twelve college projects would commence immediately with their new and improved building projects. More recently, the Learning and Skills Council announced approval of the two remaining projects for Manchester (Wythenshawe) College and Skelmersdale and Ormskirk College and work on all these projects should commence shortly.
Whilst we don’t anticipate being able to give final approval to any further projects in the immediate future, Government remains committed to the FE capital investment programme.
The Learning and Skills Council will in the meantime help colleges whose projects are not proceeding in the short term to draw up a revised estates strategy and to examine other possible sources of finance such as collective approaches to private financing and borrowing.
The Learning and Skills Council remains committed to pay all remaining contractual obligations as set out in the capital handbook and will ensure that no college gets into financial difficulty as a result of the capital programme.

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