School funding court battle gets underway

NEWHAM education chiefs have begun a court battle over government cuts to multi-million pound school rebuilding plans.

Town hall bosses have teamed up with five other authorities - including neighbouring Waltham Forest Council - for the judicial review hearing at London’s High Court.

They are challenging the decision to scrap the �55 billion Building Schools for the Future programme, which was announced by the Coalition Government last year.

Their lawyers claim Conservative education secretary Michael Gove acted “unfairly and unlawfully”.

They have asked Mr Justice Holman to force Mr Gove to reconsider funding for individual schemes.

But Mr Gove has argued the scheme, introduced by the previous Labour administration, was unnecessarily bureaucratic.

The case is due to conclude this week.

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Eight schools in Newham have already benefited from investment under the cancelled initiative, with work at three already complete.

But the withdrawal of �252.1 million from central government means projects at 12 others will now not take place.

Mayor Sir Robin Wales said: “The Building Schools for the Future Programme has helped to provide students at eight secondary schools in Newham with the first class learning environment they deserve.

“Cutting this funding shows the Government is willing to let young people from the poorest borough’s fall further and further behind their wealthier counterparts.”

Among those affected is Little Ilford School, where bosses have spent three years preparing to start a rebuilding project.

Six pupils from secondary school in Browning Road, Manor Park, visited Prime Minister David Cameron in November with local MP Stephen Timms to protest against the cuts.