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May 7, 2013 - Bill Esterson's Westminster Diary

Bill Esterson

Part of Aintree Davenhill Primary School was rebuilt and part refurbished as a result of the last Labour Government's Primary Capital Programme.

Although the Tory-Lib Dem Government stopped the funding for the school, Labour-run Sefton Council provided the money required to complete the project. The new buildings at the school have been officially opened by the Countess of Wessex and it was a pleasure to be at the opening ceremony and to see just how thrilled the children were with their new surroundings.

I remember speaking to staff and parents who were shocked that the funding had been cut by the new government just after the last election. Part of the project had been completed, but not all of it. People in Aintree were extremely pleased that Sefton Council stepped in with the cash as otherwise the children would have had half of a new school and half of an old one.

The school was originally built in the 1950s from surplus aircraft hangers. The buildings were freezing in winter and boiling hot in summer. The school was long-overdue a rebuild.

But now, the new buildings are fantastic. I was really impressed by the work which has been completed, a combination of new and refurbished buildings. 

Aintree Davenhill is a great example of what can be achieved and just what a difference a rebuilt school can make. A number of our secondary schools were also due to be rebuilt as part of the Building Schools for the Future programme. But this programme was scrapped by the Tories and Lib Dems when they formed the coalition government in May 2010. 

Schools across Sefton were denied the new buildings they had been promised. Sadly, the cost of rebuilding a secondary school is way beyond the means of a local council, so there was no way that Sefton Council could step in to help the secondary schools in the way it did at Aintree Davenhill.

And of course the cancelling of school building projects across the country meant a collapse in work for the construction industry. There are thousands of construction workers looking for jobs and schools in desperate need of rebuilding or refurbishment. Investment in our schools is one way that we could have seen better growth and more jobs in in the last three years.

The Thornton Relief Road is finally about to be given the go ahead. 

Once again, this is a project that was cancelled by the Tory-Lib Dem government when they were elected in 2010 after the Labour government had approved the work. And once again it is a project that could have supported growth and jobs. 

The Thornton Relief Road is a belated example of how the government should be supporting the economy. The cancelled school building programme across Sefton is an example of a much larger project which is needed in order to kick start the growth we all need if the country is finally to recover from the financial crisis and the disastrous programme of cuts imposed on us by this government.

Sefton Council showed the right way to support growth and jobs when it invested in Aintree Davenhill Primary School. The government has made an important if belated step in the right direction with the start of the Thornton Relief Road, although once again this is in large part thanks to the contribution and work of Sefton Council. 

But one £30million road is not going to be enough. We need an alternative to the lack of growth, to a lack of jobs especially for young people and to the hardship caused by deep cuts in funding to councils, police, fire and the NHS. That alternative should include a much larger investment in the economy and the government could start by reinstating the Building Schools for the Future programme.


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