Highlights from David Hodge’s statement on school places at today’s Cabinet meeting:
- Surrey facing a “crisis” over school places pressure
- Council to stop borrowing tens of millions to fund expansion
- Status quo would mean Surrey borrowing more than £200m over the next five years – money the county would not pay off for more than 40 years
- Without necessary funding from government Surrey children can no longer be guaranteed a school place.
Full transcript of speech:
Cabinet will be asked this afternoon to agree to continue with the biggest expansion programme of school places in the county’s history. This latest expansion will lead to more than five hundred school places at four schools. A scheme which will mean the council has to borrow five million pounds to pay for them.
Today I am announcing this will stop. No longer will we continue to saddle the Surrey taxpayer with enormous borrowing charges for years to come.
We are facing a crisis with rising demand for places and regrettably the government – despite repeated requests – has failed to guarantee it will provide us with the necessary funding to meet this need.
So far, in the absence of a fair funding settlement for the thirteen thousand extra school places we need over the next five years we have been forced to borrow tens of millions of pounds to fund this expansion. That cannot continue. It would leave us with having to borrow well over two hundred million pounds on behalf of the Surrey taxpayer. Money which would not be paid off for forty years.
I am not prepared as leader of this council to sanction such a situation so we will not borrow any more money to fund school places. Without a move by government to provide Surrey with adequate funding there can no longer be any guarantee that the county’s children will continue to be provided with a school place.