Raw data released by The Guardian shows that 13 Building Schools for the Future (BSF) projects have been scrapped in Birmingham, with 8 unaffected in Labour constituencies.
Schools including Bartley Green and Baskerville – under Gisela Stuart MP’s Edgbaston constituency – and Aston Manor in Ladywood, have seen their funding for refurbishment stopped.
Statistics compiled paint a clearer picture of the situation in the Midlands following the criticism of the government in distributing incorrect figures to authorities. Verified by the construction magazine ‘Building’ the list of scrapped BSF projects confirm that 13 of 28 schools have had their plans for rebuilding work stopped, with the remainder currently in discussion or unaffected.
Figures show that Labour has been forced to stop the majority of projects and the Liberal Democrats the least – due, partially, to the formation of the Con-Lib coalition government where Labour terminated projects in around 418 constituencies across the country. This is compared to 258 for the Conservative Party and 43 for the Liberal Democrats.
Bryan Webb, a financial analyst and accountant, said: “These figures provide an inconclusive overview of BSF. You need to remember that the coalition government brought the hammer down on various constituencies, and it is only too easy to get confused with the fact that Labour probably had little control over these measures as apposed to making the changes directly.
“The total number of projects were 112 across Birmingham and the Midlands. Of the BSF projects stopped, 39 were Labour, 9 Conservative and 1 Lib Dem. As there’s more Labour constituencies it is obvious that they would bear the brunt of this. Most unaffected BSF projects also belong to a Labour constituency, so it is apparent that these factors need to be considered without bias.
“Without a breakdown of this data, it would have been difficult to tell how everything isn’t as bad as the media make out. If 50% of funding has stopped, and 50% is unaffected on a regional basis, when the decisions of the ‘in discussion’ academies are finalised, we won’t have such a balanced 50-50 share. One will go up, one will go down. Don’t confuse politics with financial distribution.”
A Google Map highlights how Wolverhampton is the least affected. Birmingham and Coventry are amongst the largest casualties. Shaun Henefer, a maths undergraduate, noticed a pattern emerge:
“What makes these statistics look more damaging than they actually are is the fact that you don’t see a visual representation of exactly how widespread the stoppages or unaffected decisions are – the larger the constituency groups, the greater leeway in enforcing cuts.
“Birmingham vs Dudley... it’s demographic, economical, mathematical decision making and perhaps with Wolverhampton remaining unaffected, a slight hint of political competency.”
Michael Gove announced the scrapping of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme pioneered by the previous Labour government which has caused anger amongst school teachers, heads and teachers unions.
Paul Bradshaw, a senior lecturer and world expert in online journalism, said: “There’s a key point of context lacking; how many constituencies in the Midlands are Labour, Conservative or Lib Dem? If 70% of constituencies are Labour then 70% of cancelled programmes being in Labour constituencies isn’t surprising, for instance.”
According to the data, of the 112 constituencies in the West Midlands and Birmingham 85 were Labour, 25 Conservative and 2 Liberal Democrat.
The Birmingham Post and Guardian websites were used to verify the statistics.