Examiner local government reporter Barry Gibson looks back at the how the Building Schools for the Future programme turned into a saga for Kirklees
IT was such a controversial issue that it brought down a council leader.
But in the end, all the posturing, the endless consultations, the impassioned pleas, the protest marches and the angry meetings were for nothing.
Building Schools for the Future – the multi-million pound plan to transform high school education across Kirklees – is dead in the water.
The council has spent the last two years debating a £200m blueprint for schools in the north of the district. Back in Autumn 2008 some 5,000 parents, teachers and concerned citizens had their say on the plan.
By far the most controversial proposal was the closure of Castle Hall School in Mirfield, with campaigners marching through the town, collecting thousands of signatures and visiting Downing Street to push their claim that the school should remain open.
They won – after more than a year – but only by calling in a Government adjudicator. Kirklees cabinets of various political colours were united in their determination to close the small high school and move children to nearby Mirfield Free Grammar.
For some people in Mirfield, anger with Kirklees – not with this or that party, but with the council in general – will linger for years to come.
And then there was the plan to build a new high school in Birkenshaw – the base of then council leader Clr Robert Light.
It was this issue which brought down the minority Conservative administration in early 2009 and ushered in a new Labour / Lib Dem coalition.
As for the £200m plans for Huddersfield and the Valleys, they never saw the light of day.
We may never know which schools Kirklees officers planned to expand, and which they wanted to close.
For now, it’s business as normal and everyone – parents, teachers and indeed Clr Light – might rue the day they first heard the term Building Schools for the Future.