Prime Minister challenged over state of Seaham school

Seaham School of Technology, Burnhall Drive, Seaham.
Seaham School of Technology, Burnhall Drive, Seaham.
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THE Prime Minister has been taken to task over the collapse of a funding deal which has delayed plans to rebuild crumbling schools.

David Cameron was questioned by Easington MP Grahame Morris over the finances, which had been due to fund new complexes under Department of Education proposals.

Seaham School of Technology, Hetton School, St Anthony’s School, Hylton Castle Primary and Shiney Row Primary, have been told their schemes are among those to be affected by the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) issues.

During Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Morris demanded Mr Cameron intervene and deliver the new school, which is expected to cost about £17.5million.

Mr Morris told Parliament: “Seaham School of Technology, which serves some of the most deprived wards in the country, is dilapidated and in urgent need of replacement.

“Will the Prime Minister acknowledge that the real reason for the 15-month delay in the planned PFI-funded project for the replacement Seaham School of Technology is that the banks have simply refused to lend the money on the 25-year term demanded by his Education Secretary?”

In reply, the PM promised to speak to Education Secretary Michael Gove and said money is available.

He added the PFI scheme is being reformed and the Treasury is offering infrastructure guarantees to help projects go ahead.

After the session Mr Morris said: “The Prime Minister thinks everything is working fine, but the result is that Seaham still has no new school, and we have no commitment to providing the funding he says is available.”

The school was to be rebuilt under Labour’s Building Schools for the Future programme, which was scrapped when the Coalition Government came into power, with the plans also hit by delays over the site. The school plans to move from Burnhall Drive to the former Seaham Colliery site.