Cllr Dr Hardacre, Cabinet Member Education and
Skills introduced the report and explained changes in the
responsibility for the management of school budgets and the
delivery of the outdoor education curriculum. The Cabinet Member
advised the panel that schools now have direct control of 97% of
their budget. The responsibility for decisions about expenditure on
education rests with Headteachers and school governing bodies and
not the Local Authority.
The Council has two places on the
Schools’ Forum where decisions about budget allocation are
made, the majority of other places are held by schools. (The
Schools' Forum is a partnership body linking the Local Authority
and the school community in making decisions about school funding
and roles and responsibilities.)
The panel were advised that 18 Wolverhampton
schools used The Towers during 2018-19. Richard Welch, Head of
Partnerships, outlined the results of responses to a consultation
survey completed in 2019 and highlighted a key finding that young
people would like more community based local provision and
The Head of Partnerships advised the panel
that there are 60 places at the Towers and gave a breakdown of
running costs the building. The Head of Partnerships advised that
is was originally estimated that completing the repair work would
be £800,000 but was reduced to £600,000 following a
review. A breakdown of the repair works is available on
The Head of Partnerships briefed the panel on
the different options regarding the future of the building and
reasons for supporting option 1 (to close the building immediately
and then dispose of at auction) as being the best option. The Head
of Partnerships briefed the panel on the merits of the Options 2
and 3 detailed in the report.
The Head of Partnerships advised the panel the
Council has received two offers of interest from two organisations.
The discussions are at an early stage.
The panel queried if there was a long list of
options prepared for consideration before agreeing the options
presented and why the report itself was not presented earlier to
the panel. The Head of Partnerships advised the panel of the
process used to agree the list of options.
The panel queried if the report on the plans
for Tower Outdoor Education Centre was presented to Audit and Risk
Committee and also whether the issue was on Strategic Risk
Register. Emma Bennett, Director of
Children’s Services, advised the panel that the building was
not considered to be a priority alongside other Council assets. The
Head of Partnerships agreed to make enquiries and advise the panel
to confirm the situation.
The panel queried the historic maintenance
arrangements for the Towers and expressed concern about why the
issues highlighted had not been raised earlier. The panel commented
about the availability of building condition reports for the Towers
in previous years. The Head of Partnerships advised that
£70,000 had been added to the building maintenance budget for
2019/20 in response to issues highlighted during a review.
The panel queried the findings from the survey
view the full minutes text for item 3.