6 October 2010 | Angeline Albert
Councils in Nottingham and Luton have jointly applied for a judicial review of the government’s decision to halt Building Schools for the Future (BSF) funding.
Nottingham City Council and Luton Borough Council lodged papers in the Leeds Divisional Court on 1 October requesting permission to apply for a review of the decision by Michael Gove, secretary of state for education, not to go ahead with funding for schools in their area.
In Nottingham two schools, Top Valley School, and Top Valley Learning Centre and Trinity School, were granted BSF funding approval on 15 February. That decision was effectively reversed on 5 July when Gove announced several BSF programmes would not go ahead – including at these schools.
The council had expected to receive a total of £89 million for six schools and four learning centres. The authority’s claim relates to £33 million of that funding for the two Top Valley facilities and is made on the basis that it was contrary to its “legitimate expectation” that funding was being given because the schemes received approval last February.
The council said the 5 July decision was “irrational in arbitrarily using the previous 1 January 2010 as a cut-off date for stopping funding of BSF projects”.
Councillor David Mellen said: “We have sought counsel's advice on whether to take legal action to resolve this dispute, and our decision to push ahead with legal proceedings has not been taken lightly. We would have much preferred a negotiated solution. However, I have not received a response to my request to meet Mr Gove.”
The council's claim asks that the court quash the government’s decision so it can receive the funding it was originally promised.
To minimise the costs of legal proceedings, the action is being taken jointly with Luton, where two BSF programmes worth a combined cost of £45 million have been stopped. A spokesman for the authority said: “We have no wish to engage in a legal challenge, but the needs of local schools and young people must be our priority. The two schools particularly affected are Cardinal Newman and Stopsley.”