Joy as councils win victory over government

PCSOs and police officers around Priory School this afternoon

Police speak to school after fight in Southsea play park

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PORTSMOUTH’S education chief has welcomed the news that six councils have won their High Court challenge over the government’s decision to scrap their school building projects.

Education secretary Michael Gove was told he must rethink his decision to axe the £55bn Building Schools for the Future (BSF) scheme in each of the six authorities across the country – worth £1bn – after Mr Justice Holman ruled he had unlawfully failed to consult them before imposing the cuts.

In five of the cases the failure was ‘so unfair as to amount to an abuse of power’, the judge said.

Cllr Terry Hall, cabinet member for education, said: ‘This is one small step forward and we still have a long way to go but it proves what we have been saying all along that Mr Gove was wrong to cancel the BSF plans for Portsmouth without proper consultation.

‘We have been lobbying Mr Gove and his ministers constantly and will continue to do so.’

The judgement has however left it doubtful that other local authorities including Portsmouth would be able to seek a judicial review on similar grounds as it was ‘far too late’, according to Mr Justice Holman.

A council spokeswoman confirmed there were no plans to take the government to court over BSF, worth £200m to the city.