Sunday, June 06, 2010

Wors Gawin’ On?

Picked up the post below from the much underused Redbridge Community Forums which was posted by Jawal1.

Where has £6 Million come from?

The New Government is changing the rules regarding "Academy" schools . Labour (Lord Andrew Adonis and Ed Balls) tended to concentrate on bringing "failing" schools up whereas the new Government (Michael Gove) places greater emphasis on parental choice and is considering adapting the Labour "Academy" model to permit organisations of parents to open "free" schools that are government funded but free of Local Authority ties.

This raises a number of issues regarding the progress or otherwise of the Cricklefield site.

The lease on the Frenford site at Cricklefield had been surrendered. Demolition was due to commence last month (May 2010) and the Academy completed by 2012 ready for occupation at the beginning of 2013. The new building at the PLA site, in The Drive behind Cranbrook Primary School, has its roof on and is due for occupation by the Autumn and in full swing by Christmas. Whereas the Frenford Clubs have surrendered their lease on Oakfield, they have been granted a short-term arrangement whereby they continue to have use of the Jack Carter Pavilion (and Hainault & Clayhall Cricket Club continue to have use of the cricket facilities) "until 2013 at least and optionally until 2015". They are thus not completely vacating the site at Oakfield even when they move to the PLA site.

The "Leisure Centre" fronting the Swimming Pool on the High Road is boarded up and looking in a very sorry state. These is no visible evidence, looking through the padlocked gates, that any work has been commenced at Cricklefield. The connection between the situation at Cricklefield together with the former Swimming Pool and the PLA Development has attracted the comment of the Redbridge Swimmers Association.

The Childrens Services Scrutiny Committee 28th Jan 2009 considered the Academy and the Cricklefield/Oakfield move of the Frenford Clubs:

Redbridge Academy Project [this is a PDF file so you will need Acrobat Reader if you download it]

In the Minutes, it was noted that Members asked a number of questions on issues including the following:

  • whether there were any financial implications for ARK arising from local press reports regarding one of its sponsors’ involvement in the Bernard Madoff Hedge Fund;
  • the means by which ARK was funded and the Council’s liability should ARK encounter financial difficulties during the lifetime of the Academy;
  • the contents of an email circulated to all London Councillors regarding ARK;
  • the protection afforded to the Council under the terms of the 125 year lease;
  • the industrial relations difficulties experienced by ARK in Croydon (and reaction in Redbridge).

These are questions that the Council Tax Payers of the Borough should have answered clearly and unequivocally as the costs of the PLA Development and the costs of maintaining the derelict High Road / Cricklefield site is OUR money!

11 comments:

  1. The real question is not "where has the £6 million come from" but why have Officers and the borough been ripped off, the borough will not be able to take possession of one part (Oakfield) until 2012 and possibly 2015 One has to ask why Frenford could not pay off the sub lessees out of this £6 million? Frenford have been provided with a new clubhouse and substantial new Private) sporting facilites, (good luck to them) but at the expense of the Council tax payer, this money could have provided a swimming pool ( The current Chief Leisure Officer in his previous employment bought a swimming Pool for £4.5 million only 3/4 years ago.When will the responsible Officers be brought to book?
    Had we had Council transparency such things are unlikely to happen.Another LOGOS (Local Government Official Secret) is the Proposed Sky Ride- Councillors presented with a 'Fait Accompli' perhaps those Officers responsible would like to pay the costs- and to say that Sky will pick up all the costs is not a credible answer.

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  2. It seems that ARK is funded on a project-by-project basis so that it only ever has funds in hand for one Academy development at a time.

    This would fit in with an expected business model for this type of organisation but it is therefore vulnerable to the withdrawal or non-appearence of expected funding.

    The Charity Commission return is here. [This is a PDF file so you will need Acrobat Reader if you download it]

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  3. There is an Anti-Academies Alliance meeting on 24th June at Methodist Central Hall Westminster

    http://www.antiacademies.org.uk/

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  4. There is an interesting Times article regarding "Academy" schools' funding .

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  5. It always seemed rather non-sensical that The Council went ahead with the evacuation of Cricklefield when a General Election was imminent, a change of Government was highly likely, and a change of Government policy was almost certain.

    In the latest issue of the Recorder, it is reported that the Cricklefield Academy may not be built, in which case Cricklefield could have been left as it was.

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  6. and the council would have been £6 million better off! I have yet to find a published breakdown of this money, any offers?

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  7. dopeyf - have a look at this stuff

    The "point three" of the £6.3 million appears to consist of "feasibility costs" and was dealt with in the Cabinet Minutes of December 2008 (Item 10) here with an Officers Report here .

    The "£6 million"is broken down in the Officers Report here to the April 2009 Cabinet (Minutes Item 24) here

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  8. Many thanks Jawal

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  9. And recognition too, from those with Council IP addresses who have been clicking on your links to find out "Wors gawin' on"!

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  10. This Council puff here gives an inkling of what the Council Tax Payers' £6 million has bought.

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  11. The Ilford Recorder of 12th August published a small item hidden away on page 15 informing us of the go-ahead having been given to the "Academy" school at Cricklefield.

    The Council may take the view that the £6 million spent on the PLA site in order to facilitate the movement of the Frenford Clubs from Cricklefield has been justified, although there is no indication that the capital cost of the school development will include a sum from its funding to reimburse the Council Tax payers for that expenditure.

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