The £19m question: Mystery over school maintenance pot


Schools across the county will have no additional funds for classroom maintenance – or a healthy pot of £19million, depending on who you ask.

Lib Dem councillors claim that the government grant for school repairs will not be topped up by Tory-led Herts County Council.

Last year, a School Repairs and Capital Projects report found the state of the county’s school buildings is among the worst 10 per cent in the country.

But the county council
says there is a £19 million 
programme planned, funded by the government, to make improvements to school buildings.

Mark Watkin, Lib Dem shadow cabinet member for education, said: “Schools face lots of challenges, they shouldn’t have to face teaching their pupils in classrooms not fit for purpose.

“We should be aiming high, not scraping the barrel and being in the bottom eight per cent is disgraceful.

“The stock of buildings are deteriorating quicker than funds are being used. They are living on borrowed time and there are no suggestions that they are looking into it. That’s not good.”

“If you don’t tackle these problems, they don’t go away. They just come back to be even worse.

“And when parents are waiting for school places, they are suffering even greater discomfort.”

However, a spokesman for the county council said there is a large pot for schools to benefit from improvements.

She said: “We have a planned programme of £19m for next year, fully funded by government capital grant, 
following similar or larger programmes in each of the last three years.

“Representatives of the council’s schools recently formally expressed their 
support for the direction of the programme.”