Councils defeat government over school buildings

Stephen Smith's picture
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The BBC Report of today's judicial review asked for by Waltham Forest, Luton Borough Council, Nottingham City Council, Sandwell, Kent County Council and Newham on the grounds that the Government's stopping of BSF projects in their areas was arbitrary and legally flawed.

'The judge said: "However pressing the economic problems, there was no overriding public interest which precluded consultation or justifies the lack of any consultation." '
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Francis Gilbert's picture
Fri, 11/02/2011 - 12:12

The government's response is here:http://www.education.gov.uk/inthenews/inthenews/a0074346/government-resp...
It tries to put a positive spin upon what is a terrible condemnation of government policy. The bottom line is that this government is rushing into doing things without consulting properly, hoping no one will protest.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 11/02/2011 - 12:31

The High Court has censured the Secretary of State for Education for the way he handled the scrapping of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme. The Judge conceded that the final decision about whether building programmes should go ahead rested with Mr Gove but reprimanded him because he acted without consulting Councils. This, he judged, was unlawful. In five of the cases, the failure was "so unfair as to amount to an abuse of power".

The Government and Mr Gove should take note: "abuse of power" has no place in a fully-democratic society.

Francis Gilbert's picture
Fri, 11/02/2011 - 13:10

A lack of consultation is a running theme in this administration. At best, it's token, and at worst, as in this case, it's an "abuse of power".

Ben Taylor's picture
Fri, 11/02/2011 - 18:04

I lost my job as a QS in London in 2009 when the LSC colleges program was cut because they massively overspent, this meant my employer lost business. I am not sure if Ed Balls consulted on this at the time. I think Gove has messed up but the principle is the same, if there is no money then something has to go. I look forward to your complaints to Mr Balls re LSC.

Tom's picture
Fri, 11/02/2011 - 21:12

"A lack of consultation is a running theme in this administration. At best, it’s token, and at worst, as in this case, it’s an “abuse of power”."

Agreed - it's led us to coin the term 'nonsultation' for a consultation that takes place solely for the PR generated.

"if there is no money then something has to go"

Well, voting's quite expensive. So are courts. So, dictatorship and a police state, then? In a spirit of austerity, naturally.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 12/02/2011 - 10:52

The Learning and Skills Council programme was badly run and inept. I am not sure whether Mr Balls consulted stakeholders before cutting spending, but if he did not, and was required to do so, then he is as guilty as Mr Gove of abusing power.

What you seem to be saying is that because Mr Balls was not censured at the time for wrong-doing, then it is acceptable to let another politician get away with the same wrong-doing.

I used to hear this excuse many times when I was a teacher, "It's not fair, Miss, Ed got away with it! Why shouldn't I?"

I used to find this reasoning unacceptable then, and I do now.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 16/02/2011 - 11:16

14 February 2011 Questions in Parliament re the High Court ruling:

“Andy Burnham: The High Court has ruled the Secretary of State guilty of an abuse of power, but anyone listening to him for the first time today would not have thought so. There is still not one word of apology… Fresh doubts have been raised about the Secretary of State's competence and judgment…
This is a damning verdict on a Cabinet Minister by a High Court judge.

Michael Gove: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for the way in which he responds to the judgment. He refers to an abuse of power, but he will be familiar with the fact that "abuse of power" is a judicial term that has been in use since 1603 and, in particular, has been applied in judicial review cases since 1985. It has been applied to Cabinet Ministers on both sides of the House.”

http://www.michaelgove.com/content/building_schools_future

So that’s OK then. No need to worry – abuse of power is only a “judicial term” which originated in 1603 and other Cabinet Ministers have been found guilty of the same offence. Since when has wrongdoing been justified by saying that others have done it?

Mr Gove may make light of the judgement, but it is serious and cannot be swept aside so easily.

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