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Friday 1 May 2015

Toby Young’s Government Gifts

Back in early 2011, as he once more heaped praise on his hero Michael “Oiky” Gove, the loathsome Toby Young had the previous Government’s Building Schools For The Future (BSF) programme in his sights, for this was a rotten lefty programme, and so by definition was A Very Bad Thing. Gove had cancelled it: this meant that he was A Very Wonderful Human Being. Tobes gasped in shock at the costs involved.
They don't call him Captain Bellend for nothing

According to the House of Commons Education Select Committee, the average cost of a new secondary school under BSF was between £25-£30mhe told. So any school getting into that particular ballpark is, by definition, on the extravagant side. How, then, is Tobes’ own West London Free School (WLFS) performing on that front? Happily, last year’s accounts have been published online for all to judge.

And these show that WLFS is well on its way to that ballpark: up to the end of 2014, the Government had made capital grants to the Trust running the school totalling £16,574,137. Two significant items stand out, the first, as Zelo Street noted at the time, was “The acquisition of freehold land and buildings at 2 Bridge Avenue on 24 March 2014, which was donated to the Trust by the EFA at a value of £9,250,000”.

There’s more: “The taking up of a permanent long leasehold on 8 April 2014 on Cambridge Grove for a peppercorn rent over a period of 125 years. Prior to this, the Trust had a short-term lease over the Cambridge Grove site. The Cambridge Grove site was donated to the Trust at a value of £3,400,000 at 31 August 2014, based on the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham’s (LBHF) site valuation of land and buildings in 2011”.

Those familiar with the WLFS saga will have noticed that one capital item is as yet missing from the scene, and that item is Palingswick House on King Street in Hammersmith. Presumably, this too will, in the fullness of time, be donated to the Trust. There must already have been considerable amounts expended on clearing the site of contaminants, with extensive refurbishment work now under way.

Palingswick House is in a prime location in the middle of Hammersmith. Were the site to have been sold to a developer for turning into, say, upmarket apartments, the interest would have been considerable. So it will be interesting to see the valuation put on it by LBHF, who presumably still own the freehold or leasehold. The capital value of the refurbished building may be more than £10 million.

That would, of course, mean that, after donation to the Trust, that capital grant figure would indeed be right in the “£25-£30m” ballpark that Tobes considered so wasteful when it was talking about a scheme originated by a political party he disliked. But it would be pointless to suggest that he exercises consistency over such things: Tobes is a Tory supporter to the point of blind loyalty and obedience.

So this is a subject he won’t be talking too loudly about. But I just might.

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