A HARROW MP has branded the borough council incompetent after it emerged errors were made in its application for funding for much-needed primary school places.
Labour-run Harrow was not allocated a slice of a £600million Basic Needs fund from the Department for Education (DfE) for extra school places due to a ‘minor error’ in the data it supplied.
Brent Council was given £30m – the highest figure in the country – and Harrow has entreated the department to reassess its bid.
Bob Blackman, Conservative MP for Harrow East, said: “The issue is that Harrow Council completely messed up here. The responsibility is theirs to supply the data to the Department for Education.”
Mr Blackman raised a question in Parliament, calling on education secretary Michael Gove to get to the bottom of the matter.
He said afterwards: “I suppose that whoever was responsible hadn’t done their job properly and they were less than helpful in providing a clear position.
“I have been trying to find out the relevant information, but the message was very confused and no one could put their finger on what the problem was.
“I am trying to find out what the figure is for the shortfall of places but, if no one can give me this, it just makes them even more incompetent.”
The department is now reconsidering the borough’s application.
A council spokeswoman said when the data was first submitted it believed four extra reception classes would be needed for September 2011 and one extra for September 2012. However, the accurate figures should have been eight and 10.
Harrow’s portfolio holder for schools, Brian Gate, said: “The reason our application is taking longer than everyone else is because we became concerned that the school capacity data we submitted to the DfE was not up to date and required recalculation.
“The data was calculated on projected population figures provided by the Greater London Authority and since proved to be inaccurate across the whole capital.”
In a previous statement, Catherine Doran, Harrow’s corporate director for children’s services said: “We have acknowledged some minor errors in our initial submission and have carried out the additional work necessary to correct them.”
In the previous round of funding, Harrow was allocated £6.2m, described as disappointing by the Mr Gate.
Consultation on expanding 11 primary schools took place last year. Notices are being displayed outside the schools about proposals to integrate an extra 30 pupils in ‘bulge’ classes to provide extra places.