Foundations for schools are laid

MP Grahame Morris (right)  and Councillor Dan Myers with plans at the site for the new school at Seaham which has just been given the go - ahead.

MP Grahame Morris (right) and Councillor Dan Myers with plans at the site for the new school at Seaham which has just been given the go - ahead.

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EDUCATION chiefs are considering applying to a new cash pot as they push on with plans to rebuild a crumbling school.

Durham County Council plans to apply for money from a central fund, which has been set up to help schools most in need of new facilities.

Among those which could be supported by the cash is Seaham School of Technology, which missed out on a replacement complex when education minister Michael Gove scrapped the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) project.

The school, which will move from Burnhall Drive to the former Seaham Colliery site under proposals and will cost £17.5million, has been put at the top of the list for action alongside Durham Trinty School, West Cornforth Primary and St Joseph’s RC Primary in Coundon.

If the council’s cabinet agrees, the authority will make a bid to the Department for Education’s Priority Schools Building Programme (PSBP).

The local authority’s list has been drawn up after condition surveys, but the process is expected to be highly competitive after the large reductions in both BSF and other school investment programmes.

Councillor Claire Vasey, cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “This new pot presents us with an opportunity to bid for funds which could see some of our most needy schools benefit from new facilities.

“I have no doubt that this will be a highly competitive process and the timescales are very tight.

“Submissions must be lodged by October 14, with an announcement expected in December on which bids have been successful.

“In these very challenging financial times opportunities to access funding pots like this will not come often and we must grasp them as they do.”

The PSBP is expected to provide funding for just 50 to 60 schools nationally in its first year, which is why the council has put forward only four bids.

Cabinet will consider the recommendation to approve that a bid should be submitted when members meet at Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, on Wednesday.

The council has previously said it could use cash granted through the £54.4million schools capital grants up until 2015 to cover some of the costs to replace the schools.

However, this would not be enough, so it may divert funds from its children and young people’s services budget.

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