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Executive Committee 12 October 2011

by timpickstone on 15 October, 2011

Governnment School Building Programme; Public Health function moves to Council.

Wednesday night was the regular meeting of Bury Council’s Executive Committee. This committee brings together the ruling Labour Group’s eight Executive Committee members, together with the two opposition leaders sat on the end (we literally do get made to sit at the end!)

School Building Programme
The Committee considered a report where we agreed to bid to Government for funds to rebuild Elton High School (in Bury) and Radcliffe Hall Primary School.

The Coalition Government has agreed a national scheme to pay for rebuilding of between 100 and 300 schools across England (the exact number will depend on the mix of primary and secondary schools finally agreed). It is a PFI scheme (Private Finance Initiative), but hoped to be significantly cheaper than the previous scheme by getting a cheaper deal by working at a national level.

Only the schools in the worst buildings condition can apply, which in Bury is Elton High and Radcliffe Hall primary. Although 100-300 schools might not seem that many, there is a good chance that Bury will qualify because schools in many other areas were rebuilt in the last parliament.

I asked what this meant for the Labour Group’s commitment to a High School in Radcliffe, given that the Labour Executive member said “There is no other option for funding a school that needs to be rebuilt”. Interestingly the Chief Officer for Education said that the Council could always pay for a school through the sale of assets.

I also asked about the impact on a PFI scheme on other Bury schools. Apparently if it were agreed then the cost of repaying the PFI would mean (for both schools) of a bill of about £400,000 a year, which would need to be shared by Bury schools as a whole.

Public Health Transfer
One aspect of the Health and Social Care Bill that is not being talked about as much in the media is the transfer of Public Health from the NHS to local government.

This is a brilliant idea, its very difficult to separate issues of public health from issues of housing, environment, social care or education – so it makes sense for them to be dealt with together. Liberal Democrats have long believed that health functions need to have more democratic control from local people, and now we’re in Government we’re able to do something about it!

In Bury, the Council (and NHS Bury) are actually transferring public health EARLY, before we have to, and we’re the first Council in Greater Manchester to do that, which is very welcome.

Public Health staff, including the Director of Public Health will be transferring to Knowsley Place (the council building over the road from the Town Hall), with commissioning functions being placed with the council’s Director of Adult Care.

The papers for the meeting are here. Any questions please ask!

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