Day 179 – BSF Spin

About 12 months ago, Chris Hilliard and the late Graham Last negotiated in principle a sum of £350M of BSF funding for Bedford Borough. Brian Glover, appointed to continue this work, then ensured that any capital receipts would be retained by Bedford, instead of 50% being returned to BSF as in usually the case.

Whether or not this money will exist under a new Government, we have always recognised that this was magnificent and all those involved should be commended for their professional efforts.

However, where we disagree is how this information appears to have communicated, or indeed spun.

It was allowed to become “public knowledge” that the £350M was apparently linked to changing to two-tier. Furthermore, that we would be unlikely to receive funding to remain three tier as this would not demonstrate a “transformation” of our schools. The late Frank Branston implied or stated this in public several times.

Nadine Dorries then made a crucial intervention by gaining permission for an Adjournment Debate on July 6th, where she and Alistair Burt received assurances from Iain Wright (the Schools’ Minister) that BSF funding was not linked to any particular school system, that three-tier bids have been successful recently, and that the Government’s position on school systems is that it should be a local decision made by local people – nobody has ever shown that one system is better than another.

The problem is that many parents who filled in the School Organisation Review didn’t realise this; in fact many of them probably still believe the spin which came from those in positions of power. So how relevant are the results from the review when it is published on Nov 4th?

SMS calls on councillors to use their judgement on this rather than accepting the official version of events. The fates both of our children’s education and the Borough’s financial future are in your hands.

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