by willforster on 10 December, 2019
My Lib Dem colleagues and I have succeeded in halting Woking Borough Council bankrolling a private school.
Woking’s Conservative Executive recommended to all Councillors that a £21 million loan be given to Greenfield School. The school, which recently moved from Brooklyn Road to the old International School site on Old Woking Road, was seeking a loan to expand and add extra classrooms, arts, music and sports facilities.
Despite the huge financial risk and Council Officers admitting that a bank would not touch the loan, the Tory Executive went ahead to recommend granting of the loan to last week’s Full Council meeting.
I don’t know why on earth the Conservatives were so happy to provide the loan facility. It is a huge amount of money, for a Borough Council, which has no responsibility for education, to borrow to fund a private business.
Reasons given for supporting the loan included that extra capacity at the school would relieve pressure on school places locally and that the school would provide benefit to the community. There were also be a 1% return for the Council.
However, there was no guarantee that children attending would come from Woking Borough. The school may well attract children from Guildford, Runnymede and Surrey Heath and other neighbouring boroughs.
Private schools such as Greenfield can and do make contributions locally but they don’t need council funding to do that. Whilst a 1% return on the loan could have provided funding for other Council services, the risk on this huge loan was just too high.1 Comment