School spending spirals out of control

Devon parents are questioning the cost of building a new school in their village.Refreshingly, they are saying that the £2.6m offered by the government is too much and a waste of taxpayers’ money. A tenth of that sum is all that is needed to refurbish their much-loved school—but central government is keen to spend the money anyway!

Devon County Council has declared that Chagford Primary School—built in the 1930s—is in need of some renovation, and the government’s Education Funding Agency has leapt on this request and suddenly made it one of eight substandard school buildings in the county. As a result they’ve insisted they need to spend nearly £3m of taxpayers’ money on it. But many parents object to this, fearing a total rebuild of the school could make it smaller and less attractive—and hundreds have signed a petition against the move.

All the parents want to see is a more modest sum spent on refurbishment, which a previous head teacher had estimated at £250,000. But the governors are too excited by the prospect of millions of pounds directed at them. “The opportunity of £2.6m being invested of central government money is too good for us to be able to withdraw at this point in the process,” said one.

“It’s a massive decision for Chagford,” says one parent, opposing the huge expenditure. “If they were able to redirect some of the money into the school, that would be perfect. But they came and said ‘It’s a fait accompli, it’s a done deal’.” And that is how so many government projects around the country end up costing the taxpayer a lot more than they need to.

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