Letter of the week: Cheaper to keep South Shields School open than to close it

The council cabinet met on January 23 to decide the fate of South Shields Community School, now due for closure at the end of August 2020.

By Gazette Letters
Friday, 25th January 2019, 12:46 pm
Updated Friday, 25th January 2019, 12:53 pm
An earlier protest against the closure of South Shields School.
An earlier protest against the closure of South Shields School.

I asked questions via the Freedom Of Information act (FOI). The tone of the reply was one of obfuscation and lots of non answers such as ‘see previous reply ‘ but the following is irrefutable.

Letter, why close this new school?

I include statements from the council to my freedom of information request.

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Related content: "No plans for doomed South Shields School site" say council chiefs after voting to close itThe gross costs of the contract are shared between the council, Government grant(PFI credits) and the school. The annual cost in 2017/18 was £1.3millon shared, £433,000 shared equally? This was not disclosed

This payment is unaffected by pupil numbers and is determined under the PFI contract, how can we view the contract?

I asked what the deficit was annually due to pupil numbers dropping – council answer was, see above reply.

I asked what the loss is to council taxpayer, council answer was, see above reply.

Letter of the week: "Some South Shields roads look like they have been carpet bombed"The PFI contract is due to terminate in 2036, the school cash shortfall, should it close, will be shared as previous answer, ie after closure, between remaining partners, Government and the council taxpayer. Did not say if shared equally.

Therefore the cost to council taxpayers will be £650,000 per year until 2036, £11,690,000, that’s a lot of council jobs, social care provision. All money down the drain, lost to a private company.

The building and green areas can only be used for education as per the PFI contract, so just who will take such a large building on?

It could be empty for 18 years, perhaps the Marine College could relocate and sell its site for housing, perhaps Harton Tech College could relocate and sell its land for housing too, no PFI there.

Any company director in a new factory, which produces what every wants and needs, ie educated young adults , faced with an inadequate evaluation would surely take steps to make the factory viable, change what needs to be changed, be it personnel or management methods, bring experts in.

To keep the school open will cost £433,000 per year at most , closed it's £650,000. The school working costs, such as teaching staff are funded by Government, so why close it?

Make it work.

I will upload the actual reply to my Facebook page.

Colin Campbell.