Welcome To Zelo Street!

This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind

Sunday 14 September 2014

Another Free School Money Pit

The travails of Kings Science Academy (KSA) in Bradford will be well known to Zelo Street regulars: notable events in the recent past include the arrest of former head teacher Sajid Raza on fraud charges – he was later bailed – and then the news that the school had gone for a whole year (at least) without a chair of governors. Now there is the matter of how much public money the school is consuming.
Or rather, there is the matter of not only how much public money the school is consuming, but also who may be benefiting therefrom. Here we find the media outlet making the running is a generally highly conservative paper, the Leeds-based Yorkshire Post. It is unashamedly Tory supporting; former Thatcher confidante Bernard Ingham has a regular column there.

So the supporters of Michael “Oiky” Gove and his successor Nicky Morgan have no complaint, no means to suggest that this is all being got up by a bunch of rotten lefties. Moreover, the MP asking the questions, Lib Dem David Ward, who represents Bradford East, represents the governing Coalition. Ward has fixed on the role of Tory vice chairman Alan Lewis.

Lewis was named as chair of the school’s governors only to deny it. But now it appears “that in a document bidding to open another Kings Science Academy free school in Sheffield, Mr Lewis is referred to as chairman of governors or of the academy trust on ten separate occasions”. Lewis was appointed to his vice-chairmanship by Young Dave.

Ward’s Early Day Motion “says that Mr Lewis’ name appears beneath an executive summary, a mission statement and a conclusion in an application ... This application document has been seen by The Yorkshire Post ... Mr Lewis is also listed as a main contact for the application ... [the trust’s] address on the application was the same as Mr Lewis’s company”. Then we come to the money side.

There has also been controversy over the separate issue of the land deal and the level of rent being paid to Mr Lewis’ company, the Hartley Group, which has helped to make it the most expensive free school to taxpayers in the country, according to the latest DfE figures”. KSA has been built on Lewis’ company’s land “in a deal worth around £295,000-a-year in rent over a 20 year lease”.

You read that right: Alan Lewis’ company is getting close to £300,000 a year of our money, and every year for 20 years. That comes to a cool six million notes just for rent. Yet Lewis, whenever the spotlight is shone on KSA, appears to suggest he has nothing to do with the whole thing, honestly. The Government needs to get a handle on what is going on here, and sort it out.

Otherwise, the questions will continue to be asked until someone does sort it out.

No comments: