Bid to raise vital cash for Durham schools

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COUNCIL chiefs are seeking funding to replace crumbling schools with millions of pounds of private cash which will then have to be paid back.

Durham County Council has agreed to apply for money from a central fund to help them provide new facilities to those schools most in need.

Seaham School of Technology – which lost out when Education Minister Michael Gove scrapped the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) scheme – is one of four which have been listed as a priority for action.

The deadline for the bids has now closed, with ministers to decide how much each school would get from the pot, which totals £2billion for the national project.

Labour-run Durham County Council has said it has been forced to use the Private Funding Initiatives (PFI) to find money for the schools – which also include Durham Trinity School, Cornforth Primary and St Joseph’s Primary in Coundon – because of the BSF programme was axed.

The cabinet has voted to make the applications to the scheme, despite a warning from its education chiefs that there is a risk involved in applying for a PFI contract.

Any school accepted will have to sign a finance package which would require an annual revenue payment and utilities deal for 27 years.