MP bids to speed up decision over high school

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ALNWICK’S ageing high school is still awaiting the outcome of its bid for funding to rebuild its premises.

And north Northumberland MP Sir Alan Beith is calling for the ‘long-delayed’ announcement to be made now.

Duchess’s Community High School was one of three schools in the county that formed part of a bid for the Government’s Priority Schools Building programme.

A total of £2billion has been allocated by the Government to help rebuild between 100 and 300 of the country’s schools.

The Department for Education (DfE) was due to announce the first tranche of successful schools by December 2011, a decision was then expected in February 2012, but now authorities are being told they will have answers ‘in due course’.

Sir Alan used the Queen’s Speech debates in parliament to highlight the need for a decision on school capital funding, and in particular the bid for money to replace Alnwick’s school buildings.

Following the debate, in which he referred to the ‘long-delayed’ announcement about the funding, Sir Alan said: “We have been waiting since late in 2011 for the Minister’s announcement on whether the bid for Alnwick school funding has been successful and I am pressing for this to be made within the next few weeks.

“Our school’s leaders need to know where they stand and to make plans either to get new buildings underway, or to look for alternatives.

“I very much hope we will be successful – and we need to know now.”

Clare Mills, who is a school governor in Alnwick and also works for Sir Alan as his senior researcher, added: “Getting the go-ahead for new school buildings would end years of uncertainty and discouragement in Alnwick.

“There is no political disagreement that we need a new school and the county council’s executive has assured me that as soon as we know how much money we can get from central government, they will do whatever it takes to get the project moving.

“I hope we will get the full amount needed from central government so that council funds can be used for other local services.”

A DfE spokeswoman said that they were taking their time to assess all of the applications carefully.