Government education officials closed a Birmingham school while secretly planning to open a free school a mile-and-a-half away at huge cost to the taxpayer, an MP has claimed.
Selly Oak Labour MP Steve McCabe has hit out at plans to open a new Church Of England Free School on playing fields in School Road, Yardley Wood after closing the nearby Baverstock School against the wishes of local parents.
Parents were angry at the short notice as they battled to find alternative places.
But Mr McCabe told the House of Commons that the Government could have stepped in with a rescue package but refused to do so because there was a surplus of school places in the surrounding area.
Meanwhile plans to open the free school in 2021 were being developed.
The MP, said: “The whole Baverstock story is one of contempt for local people.
“The Government initially promised to rescue Baverstock and then closed it without even considering the views of parents.
“They justified the closure on the basis that the places were not needed and at the very same time the DfE was secretly approving plans for a Free School.
“I think we’re entitled to a total breakdown on costs: just how much money was spent on redundancies and other closure costs at Baverstock; what exactly were the financial irregularities that occurred at Baverstock and why has no one been held accountable; and just how many millions will be spent on this new school?
“No wonder there’s not enough money for education when we’ve got this kind of deceit and incompetence right at the heart of the DfE.”
He said at a time of school budget cuts ‘ the DfE seems to have no qualms about wasting huge sums of money on closing and opening schools on a whim’.
And added that the playing fields earmarked for development are well used by schools and local residents.
Responding during the education question time session schools minister Nick Gibb said that demand for a new school was there.
He said: “My understanding is that the decision to build and locate the new school in Yardley Wood rather than on the Baverstock site is supported by Birmingham City Council as that location will help address the need for new secondary school places not only in the Selly Oak (constituency) area but also in the neighbouring Hall Green area.
“And the feasibility study does show that the site can accommodate a school and make greater use of the playing fields and it will significantly improve sporting facilities for both pupils and the local community.”