Liberal Democrats reject Council bankrolling private school

December 10, 2019 11:30 AM
By Cllr Will Forster

Lib Dems Stop Conservative Council loaning £21 million to a private school

Will Forster GE 2019

Liberal Democrats on Woking Council have succeeded in halting Conservative proposals to bankroll 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 Conservative Executive went ahead and recommended granting of the loan to last week's meeting of borough councillors.

"Why on earth were Conservatives so happy to provide the loan facility?" asked local Lib Dem Leader Cllr Ann-Marie Barker. "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 would also be a 1% return for the Council.

"There was no guarantee that children attending would come from Woking Borough. The school may well attract children from Runnymede, Surrey Heath and Guildford and other neighbouring boroughs" pointed out Cllr Barker.

"Private schools such as Greenfield can and do make contributions locally but they don't need council funding to do that" continued Cllr Barker.

"Whilst a 1% return on the loan could have provided funding for other Council services" pointed out Cllr Barker "the risk on this huge loan was just too high".