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Fourth council launches BSF legal challenge

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A fourth council has announced that it is launching legal action over the Government’s decision to axe Labour’s £55 billion Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme

Sandwell Council, in the West Midlands, said it is seeking a judicial review over the move, which meant nine building projects in the area were scrapped.

Nottingham City Council, Luton Borough Council and Waltham Forest Council announced on Monday that they are starting legal challenges to Education Secretary Michael Gove’s controversial announcement that the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme will be scrapped.

Gove axed the scheme in July, cancelling more than 700 projects that had not been signed off before January 1.

At the time, errors in the published list of cancelled projects led Sandwell to believe that a number of their schemes had been spared.

But they were later told this was not the case.

In a statement on Wednesday, the local authority called Gove’s decision ‘unfair’ because its BSF schemes were ready to proceed before January 1, but had to stick to a timetable imposed by Partnerships for Schools (PfS), the quango running the programme.

Council leader Darren Cooper said: ‘We are taking legal action because the Government’s decision is irrational, unfair and short-sighted.

‘Why did they chose January 1 as the cut off date? Was it just plucked out of the air? If we had been told that was the deadline we would have met it.

‘Instead we did what we were told and spent money on preparatory work in good faith. Given the circumstances we believe we have no alternative but to mount a legal challenge.’

Nottingham and Luton are taking joint action, in a bid to minimise the cost of legal proceedings.

BSF was launched by Labour in 2004, with the aim of rebuilding or refurbishing every secondary school in England.

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