Give it back Gove! That’s the message from residents and councillors calling on the Education Secretary to stop interfering with a former school site.
Last year Woodside Middle School in Putnoe Lane, Bedford, closed to make way for the new Putnoe Primary School.
But although the council owns the old Putnoe Lower School site in Overdale – costing £40,000 a year in maintenance costs – it needs permission from the Government to dispose of it.
It’s an issue which has brought together Labour and Liberal Democrat members who are calling on the Conservative chief Michael Gove to stop preventing the land being used by the borough council.
Sue Oliver, leader of the borough’s Labour group said: “At a time of government- imposed budget cuts, it is nothing short of scandalous that Mr Gove is forcing us to waste taxpayers’ money on a site that is no longer needed.” The portfolio holder for finance and asset management, Michael Headley, said they had kept asking the Government if they could have control of the site, but had repeatedly been told no. He said: “It’s worth money to local taxpayers and we could have funds coming in rather than spend them keeping the site. It’s outrageous.” Anthony Forth from the Goldington Labour Action Team added: "We want to see the site redeveloped in a way that would be sympathetic to the character of the area and not disrupt local residents.” Phillip Rogers, a nearby local resident added: “No-one in the local area can understand why it is taking so long to get this sorted.” We asked the Department for Education for a comment but no-one got back to us at the time of going to press.