Somerset spending cuts delay new school buildings

Children in a school Image copyright PA
Image caption The new school building programme will progress more slowly than previously planned

Plans to build 24 new and replacement schools in Somerset have been delayed by council funding cuts.

Somerset County Council recently voted to approve £15m of cuts to more than 70 different services.

The council had planned to spend £140m on building new schools in the next four years, with £116m of that being paid for by council borrowing.

It has now said the programme to build new schools will continue at a "slower pace than previously anticipated".

The planned schools include seven in Taunton, four in Bridgwater and three in Yeovil.

Burnham-on-Sea, Castle Cary, Chard, Crewkerne, Frome, Highbridge, Ilminster, Shepton Mallet, Somerton, Street and Wells will each get one new school.

'Alternative funding'

At a recent council meeting, the cabinet member for education, Faye Purbrick said there were "no specific savings for mainstream education services, but schools and education providers do have a key rule in ensuring that we meet the challenges that we face".

"We've got to look at how we provide [new schools] in the future.

"We're reviewing all the areas we have to provide for, and are looking at alternative forms of funding - we've got to look at every pot we can possibly got money from," she said.

She later said the council only intended to borrow money if it cannot find different funding sources.

A council spokesman said: "Given the increased pressures on our finances, we will be reviewing all spending including our schools building programme - for instance, how it is funded and its time-scales.

"The need for school places will be linked to planning applications and housing developments, and some of these are likely to move forward at a slower pace than previously anticipated."