Pakefield High School funds available, says PM

Artist's impression of the new Pakefield school, courtesy of Pakefield
Image caption The new Pakefield High building is due to accommodate all 900 pupils by 2014

David Cameron says money is available to complete a new school in Suffolk, but there is confusion about where the funding will come from.

The prime minister said Suffolk had been awarded an extra £33m this year for projects including the building of Pakefield High School near Lowestoft.

But councillor Graham Newman said £12m was meant to come from the now defunct Building Schools for the Future scheme.

He said the council would have to "use much more economical building methods".

Mr Cameron was responding to a question at Prime Minister's Question Time from Waveney MP Peter Aldous, Conservative.

Mr Aldous called on the government to do all it could to fund the completion of the school, which is being built on the site of the former middle school and is currently using its old building.

'Huge commitment'

The first pupils are due to move into the new building in the spring. All 900 pupils should be accommodated by 2014.

Image caption The new Pakefield High School building begins to take shape, November 2011

Mr Cameron said: "This year Suffolk has an extra £33m in capital funds.

"It's obviously for the local authority to decide how to spend this money, but I would make the point that school capital that's available throughout this spending round amounts to £15.9bn - so money is there for important school projects."

Mr Newman, portfolio holder for schools, said: "Suffolk County Council has funded the first half of the building at Pakefield and the second half was going to be funded by the next phase of Building Schools for the Future - and it's not there any more.

"That leaves us with a huge commitment, which was originally estimated to cost £12m to do that completion."

Mr Newman said one option to reduce the costs of the Pakefield build would be to refurbish and reuse the old middle school building, rather than demolish it.

"The problem with that is we've got children occupying the space in the middle school at the moment," he said.

Pakefield head teacher Perry Linsley said refurbishing the former middle school and incorporating it with the new building would be "money wasted".

He said: "The adaptation of the middle school building is unacceptable - it's at the end of it's life and is in poor repair."

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