SENIOR Tories have clashed over the government’s decision not to give an extra £2m towards the rebuild of a city school.
A report has revealed the Department for Education will not contribute the money to rebuild King Richard School to its current capacity – so the council will have to pick up the bill.
It seems ridiculous we have a Conservative MP and a Conservative leader of the council who cannot sort this out.John Ferrett, Labour parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth North
The government has instead chosen to pledge £9m towards creating a new school accommodating the 900 children who already attend, and not one that could cater up to 1,080.
Tory council leader Donna Jones says it is disappointing given the surge in demand for primary school places and how that will have a strain on secondary education in future years.
But Portsmouth North’s Tory MP candidate Penny Mordaunt has hit back saying the government will put forward the extra cash – but only after it is ‘demonstrated’ there is a need for more places at King Richard.
Building work is due to begin in September and Ms Mordaunt says an extension could be added to the school in future years if more places are needed, and insisted the government would fund the project.
In an e-mail to Cllr Jones, she said the money cannot be allocated now as plans for the school would have to be redesigned, which would delay the project by 18 months. But a statement issued on Cllr Jones’ behalf says the decision is ‘short-sighted’ and it will be more expensive to expand at a later date. The council has also warned that with a reduced capacity at King Richard, there will not be enough places for year 7 pupils by 2018.
Lib Dem Portsmouth North candidate Darren Sanders said: ‘It’s disappointing that the Tories in Portsmouth don’t seem to be able to agree on something this fundamental. We have got to work together to try to make sure we deliver the best possible school places for our city.’
Labour candidate John Ferrett said: ‘It seems ridiculous we have a Conservative MP and a Conservative leader of the council who cannot sort this out. They are effectively at war with each other.’