It’s a case study that will make Liberal Democrats everywhere hang their heads in shame. It’s the story of Barking and Dagenham, one of the most deprived local authorities in the country even before coalition politicians removed hundreds of millions of pounds of education project financing in one swipe of a pen. Along with the new schools and modern facilities went the hopes for a better future for one of the UK’s most multicultural communities, just a stone’s throw from the home of the country’s shiny Olympic vision. In the wake of a summer of discontent, the reality of reneged promises will only serve to fuel widespread dissatisfaction in a community that was on a journey to a positive future.
£16bn of education funding doesn’t come anywhere near to meeting the needs of the nation’s school estate
So what options are left to Barking and Dagenham and the dozens of other local authorities scrambling to create a school place for every child, and aspiring to do so in something other than a temporary cabin? The near-on £16bn of education capital funding between now and 2015 doesn’t come anywhere near to meeting the needs of the nation’s school estate, nor will it be enough to relieve the nation’s demographic pressures - in Barking and Dagenham alone 900 additional primary school places are needed. Here, we evaluate the alternative cash sources.
That £16bn includes a £2bn remodelled PFI programme once disparaged by the very politicians presenting it as new. Look at the 60% decline in direct government funding and the subsequent worst ever construction order figures recorded by the ONS - the only conclusion is the government is relying on the private sector stepping in. Local Asset Backed vehicles, albeit in their infancy, look a preferred route. But the skillsets of most councils combined with a lack of focus, clarity and leadership will surely hinder such projects. And so, step in the public/private match-makers and the host of entrepreneurs and middle men aiming to bring in pockets of commercially viable solutions across the country. But is it what you voted for? Will it bring certainty to your business planning all over again? Answers on an e-postcard please to firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Broughton, brand director
Next week a new chapter in east London’s history begins with the opening of Westfield Stratford City. Why does a new shopping centre matter? Because this one promises to change the profile and perception of east London forever. The largest urban shopping centre in Europe, Westfield Stratford City symbolises the juggernaut of regeneration that is roaring through what were once some of the poorest areas in the capital. It will create 18,000 permanent jobs and 16,000 homes in areas with some of the city’s highest unemployment rates and housing shortages. But its sights are also set on scale and prestige. It is the gateway to the 2012 Olympic park and nearby Stratford International (seven minutes from central London) will soon be the only London station connected to Crossrail and Europe, making Stratford a major international leisure, retail and entertainment destination - unthinkable just five years ago. Westfield Stratford City will not win any design awards. But like the Olympics and Canary Wharf, it is yet another sign that London’s cultural pendulum is swinging inexorably eastward.
23 September 2011
09 September 2011
09 September 2011
09 September 2011