Councillor Peter Butlin (Deputy Leader) moved the recommendation as set out in the report. Councillor Parminder Singh Birdi seconded the recommendation and reserved the right to speak. During the debate, the following points were made:
· Attention was drawn to the Local Plans of each of the five district and borough councils and that the county council was required to provide school places to support the house building set out therein. It was claimed that it had previously been estimated that the implications were a requirement for 63 new schools. Councillor John Holland asked if this was the correct figure and how many of the schools had been built
· It was asserted that it had been previously acknowledged that the Oakley Grove School was not built on the preferred site and the costs involved were questioned, considering any losses, and how this compared to the cost that would have been incurred if building had taken place in the centre of the Heathcote estate
· The sufficiency of school places was questioned, particularly in Warwick district, where huts were being provided. The opinion was expressed that it was important to ensure that there were adequate school buildings for children who progressed through the school system
· The view was expressed that schools must not be built to a lower quality due to inflation and a shortage of school spaces and should be fit for the future so that retrofitting of efficiency measures was not required and to maximise revenue savings for the council and the schools
· The provision at Myton School was welcomed
· Disappointment over the absence of provision for Rugby in the report was expressed and assurance was sought that the urgent need in the area was being recognised
· It was noted that the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee were planning a task and finish group focussed on sufficiency.
· The delivery of the extension to the Queen Elizabeth Academy was welcomed as an exciting development for the school.
Councillor Singh Birdi noted that the debate had extended beyond the recommendations in the report and asserted that provision needed to be economically viable and compliant with building regulations and welcomed the proposals.
In response, Councillor Peter Butlin noted that the Council had delivered five new schools since 2016, with a further four being delivered in the following four years. He reflected on the reasons for the siting of the Oakley Grove school and stated that, after consideration, the current site was the preferred site. He advised that developments would be built to the new building regulations and whenever possible and financially viable, it was the Council’s intention to exceed those standards, but the primary concern was to ensure there were sufficient school places in Warwickshire. He noted work had been commissioned to determine where and when school places were needed so that decisions about school building in Rugby and across the county were made on current data and projections.
A vote was held. The recommendation was agreed unanimously.
A report recommending additions to the Education Capital Programme.
Cabinet Portfolio Holder – Councillor Jeff Morgan
Councillor Peter Butlin (Deputy Leader of the Council) presented this item in the absence of Councillor Jeff Morgan. Councillor Butlin summarised the report which detailed seven projects for addition to the capital programme, plus one to agree a change of use to funds already agreed: Bridgetown Primary School, Stratford-upon-Avon; Etone College, Nuneaton; Southam St James Primary School, Southam; Sunbeams Nursery (based at Radford Semele Primary School), Leamington Spa; The Queen Elizabeth Academy, Atherstone; Myton School, Warwick; and the countywide Disability and Access Block Header. Developer contributions of £0.116 million were available to fund the projects as outlined and an addition of £9.504 million to the capital programme to deliver the schemes was sought.
In response to a comment from Councillor Margaret Bell regarding the need to ensure that sufficiency projections were accurate so that building plans were fit for the long term and a question from Councillor Barbara Brown regarding the sufficiency of school places in Rugby, Councillor Butlin advised that work had been commissioned to determine where and when school places were needed so that future decisions were based on the latest accurate data.
Councillor Butlin advised that the delivery of the project at Oakley Grove was not without its challenges, but the project had to be delivered on the current site. The building design would pertain to the standards required by the government. He suggested that further questions from Councillor Jonathan Chilvers regarding building above minimum standard building regulations in terms of energy efficiency and from Councillor John Holland regarding school building plans in response to the district and borough councils’ Local Plans would be more appropriate to the debate at Full Council.
Resolved that Cabinet:
1. Recommends to Council that £8.630 million be added to the capital programme to deliver the schemes at The Queen Elizabeth Academy, Atherstone and Myton School, Warwick, to be funded from Department for Education grant and third party contributions.
2. Approves the previously agreed allocation of £4.753m in respect of Etone College to deliver the amended scheme set out in Section 3 of the report, and approves the addition to the capital programme of £0.874m funded from the Department for Education grant and third party contributions to deliver the remaining schemes outlined in Section 3 of the report.
3. Authorises, subject to Council’s agreement to the required addition to the capital programme, the Strategic Director for Communities, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Children, Families and Education, to invite tenders and enter into the appropriate contracts on terms and conditions considered acceptable to the Strategic Director for Resources, or (where the scheme is school led) to make the necessary funding arrangements for these schemes.