COUNCILLORS have clashed over the future of Darlington's schools after the Government scrapped a £41m upgrade.

Cash strapped Darlington Borough Council is looking for new ways to help make up for the loss of a multi-million redevelopment of Branksome, Hurworth and Longfield schools.

All three were scheduled to be revamped or rebuilt under the national Building Schools for the Future programme - but the scheme's future is now in doubt after it failed to win official approval.

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Now the council cabinet has been forced to step in with a £1.5m pot to pay forthe most urgent jobs.

At a council cabinet meeting Conservative councillor Gill Cartwright criticised the previous Labour government for failing to invest in Longfield School.

Council leader John Williams said the claim was “outrageous and untrue”.

But Coun Cartwright, ward councillor for the Harrowgate Hill ward where Longfield is situated, said: “We waited until the last Government ran out of money. Who decided it was a good idea to apply to a bankrupt Government?"

Coun Stephen Harker replied: “This council spent the last 13 years rebuilding the schools in this town."

Councillor Bill Dixon argued that half of schools were unfit when Labour came to power in 1997 - now it was one in 20.

He added: “This was the final round that would have made our entire family of schools fit for purpose.”