THE cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme means a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity has been lost, it was claimed yesterday.

Education leaders in the North-East expressed dismay and disappointment after examining the full impact of Education Secretary Michael Gove’s announcement on Monday.

One councillor admitted that she was “personally devastated”

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that the scheme had been axed, while another said the Government would be haunted by the impact of the cuts for years to come.

More than 70 projects in the region have been cancelled.

Decisions on a further seven academies and other schools will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council had hoped to secure £90m of investment to refurbish and rebuild schools throughout its area.

Councillor Ian Jeffrey, the council’s cabinet member for children’s services and education, said: “We are awaiting formal confirmation, but if that comes then the cancellation of the BSF programme would represent a huge disappointment, as it offered a once-in-a-generation chance to dramatically enhance many of our schools.”

More than £500m was due to be invested in schools in County Durham.

Councillor Claire Vasey, Durham County Council’s portfolio holder for children and young people, yesterday expressed “serious concerns”

over the announcement.

She said: “The Building Schools for the Future programme is the catalyst for investment in our young people and in the regeneration of our communities.

“I am personally devastated at the effect this announcement will have on the partners we have worked so closely with in developing our plans for the future provision and development of education in County Durham.”

In Darlington, four projects have been stopped – the redevelopment of Branksome, Hurworth and Longfield schools and of the Bridge Pupil Referral Unit.

Councillor Cyndi Hughes, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for children and young people, said that the announcement was devastating news for young people in the town.

She said: “This decision represents a short-sighted, knee-jerk reaction by a Government hell bent on reducing the deficit.

“The long-term impact of this decision on education, community cohesion and the economy will haunt this Government for years to come.”