Councillors are said to have refused to write off debts of £1.3m which would have fallen to local council taxpayers
Campaigners against the Coalition government’s ‘forced academies’ policy of removing schools from local authority control have welcomed reports that Birmingham City Council has put on hold plans to transfer eight schools to private control.
Councillors are said to have refused to write off debts of £1.3m which would have fallen to the local authority, under proposals which have now been formally ‘deferred’.
They also expressed serious concern over the terms of complicated leasing arrangements around some of the school buildings.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, which has been campaigning against the drive to create more academies in Birmingham, said: “Why should the council taxpayers of Birmingham be penalised and be forced to cover these liabilities?
“Birmingham City Council should stand firm against writing off these debts.
“If the private providers want to take over these schools so badly then they also should take on the financial commitment that local authorities make year-in year-out.”
Four of the eight schools which were earmarked were about to be transferred to new owners – or ‘sponsors’ as officials put it – under the fast-track programme to convert local authority schools into privately-run academies which has accelerated under Conservative Education Secretary, Michael Gove.
Birmingham council education officials had intended to hand the schools over to academy status ‘on or after 1st September 2012 by order of the Secretary of State’.
That timetable is now on hold while council lawyers draw up new agreements which would prevent the city being saddled with the existing debts.
Education officials have also set up an inquiry into the academies policy and how the local authority should respond if the institutions fail financially in the future.
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