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Support for retaining school is wholehearted

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Regarding your News story 'Westminster perseveres with model project Pimlico', aj 6.5.99, pages 5 and 7, the decision by Pimlico School governors to withdraw support from rebuilding proposals was not 'marginal', as claimed by Westminster's director of education, but fundamental: we object to the permanent loss of a quarter of our already cramped site, as well as the impracticalities of delivering education on the same site as a five- year construction programme.

Nor have governors 'acknowledged that alternatives are not as achievable as imagined'. Repair or refurbishment options providing the required outputs are demonstrably cheaper than the £48 million scheme (not £31.5 million!), and would not require anywhere near the unprecedented £25 million of government funding currently offered. They would also be less disruptive, since demolition of the present building is not required - a fact which would also please riba, eh, rfac, Sir Denys Lasdun, Sir Phillip Powell, Sir Colin Stansfield- Smith etc, etc.

These have been the central concerns of the entire school community since 1995; the failure to address them has led to this becoming the longest pfi procurement process ever undertaken. That Westminster imagines this project will become a pfi template further illustrates the Wonderland that the school has been forced to inhabit.

All of which begs the question: why has the dfee been willing to fund an extravagant, unwarranted and unwanted 'flagship' rebuild, while refusing lesser funding for the school's preferred option?

Michael Ball

Governor, Pimlico School

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