Sydenham School major demolition and reconstruction

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Re: Sydenham School major demolition and reconstruction

Postby Annie. » 13 Jul 2012 14:19

Thats what I thought, well at least thats something,
I do like the older type buildings ,like the library,swimming pool etc, however,I like to see progress, and if the new building looks like the pictures ,then it looks exciting,wish I was at school now.

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Re: Sydenham School major demolition and reconstruction

Postby Eagle » 13 Jul 2012 14:24

When my sister attended about 1955 it only had the old building and was a grammar school . Glad the old building being retained.
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Re: Sydenham School major demolition and reconstruction

Postby Annie. » 13 Jul 2012 15:06

Was it really?
What a shame we no longer have Grammer shools.
Yes the old building is elegant, like many old building.

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Re: Sydenham School major demolition and reconstruction

Postby perryman » 13 Jul 2012 16:09

Does anyone know where the money for this project is coming from?

Hopefully everyone has learnt their lesson on PFI, given how how wasteful it is - eg see South London Healthcare Trust facing insolvency this month.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18584968

Would be nice to think they will use a normal method of funding.
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Re: Sydenham School major demolition and reconstruction

Postby Mangetout » 13 Jul 2012 19:11

Investment on this scale has got to be good for the area.

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Re: Sydenham School major demolition and reconstruction

Postby Tim Lund » 13 Jul 2012 21:49

Mangetout wrote:Investment on this scale has got to be good for the area.

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perryman wrote:Does anyone know where the money for this project is coming from?

Hopefully everyone has learnt their lesson on PFI, given how how wasteful it is - eg see South London Healthcare Trust facing insolvency this month.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-18584968

Would be nice to think they will use a normal method of funding.


I sympathise with both of you, but things may not be so simple. With reference to Mangetout, people probably said the same about new investment when they tore down the old houses in Deptford and put up those immediately unloved tower blocks - see thread on the Secret History of our Streets. I suspect we have learned from that sort of development, but investment as such is not necessarily good for an area.

Another possible problem is the way investment is financed - and it seems generally accepted that the early PFI projects were disastrous for the public sector. In principle, they don't have to be; ideally they bring in private sector expertise, with contracts carefully constructed to get the right long term incentives for this expertise to benefit the public. There are two reasons the early PFIs were so bad - first assessments were skewed to make them look much better value then they were, part for ideological anti-public sector reasons, part to maintain artificial public sector borrowing targets by using such off-balance sheet financing. The other reason was that the private sector 'partners' ran rings round the public sector in the detailed negotiations of the contracts. Over time, I think the public sector has wised up a bit, but I suspect not enough, and, to bring it to the matter of Sydenham School, some research will establish that this is being financed as part of the Building Schools for the Future, which on coming into power, Michael Gove concluded was indeed a rip off, but subsequently was forced to carry on with them following judicial reviews brought by various local authorities, for not having consulted properly. It doesn't fill me with confidence.

It would be nice to think we had some fearless local councillors who understand something about finance and accountancy, see the long terms consequences, and protest about this. But we do not, not least because those we have have too much political sense to object to something which is so unarguably a good thing as this sort of investment.

If we want to peer into the future a bit, Perryman's model of the South London Healthcare Trust is worth investigating. In the Campaigning for Ken thread I argued that London Boroughs such as Lewisham are not natural political entities, and at some point in the future may be superseded. I didn't speculate on how, but bankruptcy is plausible.
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Re: Sydenham School major demolition and reconstruction

Postby marianne » 14 Jul 2012 16:07

Having looked at your link "Building Schools for the Future", it all looks good to me:

Lewisham Schools for the Future Local Education Partnership (LEP) will:

•Over the next 10 years oversee the rebuilding or renovation of secondary schools within Lewisham
•Form part of the national Building Schools for the Future programme
•Provide the ongoing facilities management for the newly built schools
•Oversee the implementation of ICT within the newly built and renovated schools
•Deliver the ongoing ICT managed service within schools across the borough

We are delivering this via our supply chain partners Costain and Babcock.

(copied from website)
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Re: Sydenham School major demolition and reconstruction

Postby Tim Lund » 15 Jul 2012 17:11

marianne wrote:Having looked at your link "Building Schools for the Future", it all looks good to me:


So it should - it's meant to.

marianne wrote:Lewisham Schools for the Future Local Education Partnership (LEP) will:

•Over the next 10 years oversee the rebuilding or renovation of secondary schools within Lewisham


I think this really is the good bit, and why I'm happy enough that it's going to happen. But it doesn't mean it's all good.

marianne wrote:•Form part of the national Building Schools for the Future programme


This is about how it's going to be paid for. This we don't really understand, and I doubt if anyone in Lewisham does either. In principle it should matter, in the same way that someone could buy a perfectly good car or washing machine, but if they did it by borrowing money from a pay day lender, it might not be such a good idea. In practice, it's harder to say, because, as a relatively deprived borough, Lewisham has a large persistent annual deficit anyway, which the central government finances in one way or another. The way BSF is financed may be a rip-off - as earlier PFI arrangements were before it, and as Michael Gove recognised in trying to stop it - but if it's how central govt - then Labour, but this hardly matters - said local authorities should finance school building, then when it all goes wrong, Lewisham will have a good case for support from central government to help them out. Ultimately - well, also actually, since it's happening now because of previous poor financial decisions - it will turn into a blame game about why particular cuts are needed; a game which will not be won by being on top of details about any particular way of financing anything, but by the arts of political spin. The other game - understanding the financing, our politicians are happy to leave to their friendly financial experts and advisors, who funnily enough generally come out on the winning side.

marianne wrote:•Provide the ongoing facilities management for the newly built schools


This could be good, but the experience is that it sometimes doesn't work out well. It comes down to whether the best value facilities management can be achieved by people reporting to a school head teacher or the local education authority, or someone appointed, ultimately by Costain or Babcock. I think this is an open question; I think there are some areas where local authority management is good, and I think it's in general a good thing that someone with a hands-on understanding of everything going on at a school - such as its head should have - should be involved in such decisions. OTOH, large organisations such as Costain or Babcock will have economies of scale which will favour their taking on the job. In practice it will come down to how well a detailed contract setting out mutual responsibilities works. I'd wouldn't say such contractual arrangements can't work, but experience to date has not always been happy.

marianne wrote:•Oversee the implementation of ICT within the newly built and renovated schools
•Deliver the ongoing ICT managed service within schools across the borough


Bring up ICT in this context is rather like having a balloon over your head in a negotiation saying "I'm a sucker, please rip me off". Think of the entirely predicable - and predicted - NHS IT debacle. If you think back just ten years, no one would have realised that thanks to wi-fi, you didn't need to worry about wiring up buildings, or that thanks to the development of cloud computing, we wouldn't need particularly high spec PCs. So large amounts of money spent then in the hope of educating future IT enabled generations will have been wasted - unless you held Microsoft stock.

When it comes to teaching ICT, please believe me as someone who continues to earn a crust in the sector: you need no more special equipment than in say maths or languages. IT is an incredibly fast moving area, and lessons learnt about specific applications while at school will not help educate the people who can help our economy compete in later years. Our problem with IT is not that we've not bought enough of it - it's that we've not sold enough. What you need for IT is the very general ability to think precisely and abstractly - that's why I mentioned maths and languages above.

marianne wrote:
We are delivering this via our supply chain partners Costain and Babcock.

(copied from website)


Similar comments to those for 'ongoing facilities management'. One of the original justifications for PFI type deals was that the quality of construction impacted the maintenance costs, so it made sense to combine responsibilities, to give the constructors the incentive to do their job well. As mentioned, the maintenance contract requires a great deal of cares anyway, so it comes down to choosing to negotiate either that, or a set of specs for the building to be delivered which will be maintainable by the occupant - in this case the public sector. I suspect the latter would often be better.
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Re: Sydenham School major demolition and reconstruction

Postby Mangetout » 18 Jul 2012 23:18

How can not investing in Sydenham and the education of it's youth not be a good thing? It's not as if the buildings proposed for demolition are historic or even remotely attractive. No wonder Sydenham is in the doldrums if such attitudes prevail here.

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Re: Sydenham School major demolition and reconstruction

Postby Tim Lund » 19 Jul 2012 06:37

Mangetout wrote:How can not investing in Sydenham and the education of it's youth not be a good thing? It's not as if the buildings proposed for demolition are historic or even remotely attractive. No wonder Sydenham is in the doldrums if such attitudes prevail here.

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Please be more specific. I am supporting this reconstruction. What attitude are you objecting to?

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Re: Sydenham School major demolition and reconstruction

Postby Annie. » 19 Jul 2012 09:00

I think it will be a good thing to have built.

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Re: Sydenham School major demolition and reconstruction

Postby Rachael » 19 Jul 2012 10:47

I think it's great for the pupils and staff at the school that they are getting new buildings. Investment in education is a boon to all of us. On those grounds, this is great news.

But I think it may be a mistake to look for tangible economic benefits to the local area beyond that. The rebuilt boys school on Mayow Road certainly looks better, and provides great facilities for the boys. But I doubt there is any measurable economic benefit to the local economy.

I'm not decrying these rebuilding programmes, I think they are essential. But I don't think they will have as much impact on our local economy as, say, the rebuilding of the pools in Forest Hill will have there.

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Re: Sydenham School major demolition and reconstruction

Postby Eagle » 19 Jul 2012 10:58

Mangetout you ask how can it be anything other than a good thing.

I am not saying it is not but very importantly how is it being paid for. Are we again going to saddle future generations with huge debts

It is selfish for us to put all costs down to future generations. If Lewisham have got the money in their current reserves fine.
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Re: Sydenham School major demolition and reconstruction

Postby Annie. » 19 Jul 2012 11:49

rshdunlop wrote:I think it's great for the pupils and staff at the school that they are getting new buildings. Investment in education is a boon to all of us. On those grounds, this is great news.

But I think it may be a mistake to look for tangible economic benefits to the local area beyond that. The rebuilt boys school on Mayow Road certainly looks better, and provides great facilities for the boys. But I doubt there is any measurable economic benefit to the local economy.
I'm not decrying these rebuilding programmes, I think they are essential. But I don't think they will have as much impact on our local economy as, say, the rebuilding of the pools in Forest Hill will have there.

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It may not be of economical benefit to the local area,but hopefully if the pupils have access to good facilities/ teachers etc it will benefit society in the future as a whole.

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Re: Sydenham School major demolition and reconstruction

Postby Tim Lund » 19 Jul 2012 11:58

Eagle wrote:Mangetout you ask how can it be anything other than a good thing.

I am not saying it is not but very importantly how is it being paid for. Are we again going to saddle future generations with huge debts

It is selfish for us to put all costs down to future generations. If Lewisham have got the money in their current reserves fine.


I sympathise with Eagle's sentiments here, but I'm still with Mangetout in being pleased that Lewisham is going ahead with this investment. If you read carefully what I wrote, I reconcile these positions by saying Lewisham has a fair chance of not having to live up to the financial consequences, given which, it's not unreasonable to go for the immediate benefit of this investment. It's a rotten system, in the same way that it's a rotten system which encourages bankers to make risky investment because they can expect someone else to pay if it goes wrong. The immediate benefit here should be some decent school buildings, which has rather more public value than what a banker's bonus is typically spent on, so that's good, but we should at least be aware of the likely bad consequences of bad methods of financing it. These bad consequences might be local - in the way the failings of PFI contracts for the South London Healthcare Trust are hitting people here - but I'd like to think that the bad consequences could be for the organisations who currently think they're on a winner - those

friendly financial experts and advisors, who funnily enough generally come out on the winning side.


I referred to in response to Marianne earlier in this thread.

It's the point I made in the thread "How should the UK Default"

Reading again this morning in The Observer about the crippling costs of the private finance initiatives, which in succession our Conservative, Labour and now Coalition governments use, a compulsory rewriting of the terms of these justified by an honest inquiry into their accounting would be my first choice.
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Re: Sydenham School major demolition and reconstruction

Postby Rachael » 19 Jul 2012 12:01

Annie. wrote:
rshdunlop wrote:I think it's great for the pupils and staff at the school that they are getting new buildings. Investment in education is a boon to all of us. On those grounds, this is great news.

But I think it may be a mistake to look for tangible economic benefits to the local area beyond that. The rebuilt boys school on Mayow Road certainly looks better, and provides great facilities for the boys. But I doubt there is any measurable economic benefit to the local economy.
I'm not decrying these rebuilding programmes, I think they are essential. But I don't think they will have as much impact on our local economy as, say, the rebuilding of the pools in Forest Hill will have there.

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It may not be of economical benefit to the local area,but hopefully if the pupils have access to good facilities/ teachers etc it will benefit society in the future as a whole.

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Exactly my point, Annie.

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Re: Sydenham School major demolition and reconstruction

Postby Eagle » 19 Jul 2012 13:26

Tim
Are you suggesting Lewisham in future will default on its debts. Something some American cities have done.
I read today that some Italian regions bankrupt especially Sicily which is causing Rome many sleepless nights.

This may be a way out in future , but would mean Lewisham could not borrow again for some time , maybe a good idea .

Still not sure best to go ahead if,indeed , will plunge us into a Grecian debt scenario. If is not as if the old building has fallen down is it. The main tower is only about 55 years old. Buildings should last longer than that.
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Re: Sydenham School major demolition and reconstruction

Postby Annie. » 19 Jul 2012 13:53

The birthrate in Lewisham has increased,some primary schools have had to increase their intake,I guess these pupils will be going onto secondary school eventually,we have to make room for them,perhaps the old school has limited space?
We dont bulid like the Victorians anymore Eagle, its all about cost, false economy in a lot of cases, if we are knocking down buildings after only 50 odd years.terrible state of affairs really,
still the public have very deep pockets!

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Re: Sydenham School major demolition and reconstruction

Postby Eagle » 19 Jul 2012 14:54

Birthrate and immigration rate has increased and I appreciate these children have to go somewhere.

That of course is mainly Lionel Blair's fault .

However we could build another building next to the tower and renovate ( if reqd ) the existing tower.

I am just concerned that the younger generation will land up with so many public debts which we will have left them. Is this ethical. Surely we should pay NOW for things required NOW , if no money it cannot be built for the moment.

Have not we learnt the dangers of debt by now.
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Re: Sydenham School major demolition and reconstruction

Postby Annie. » 19 Jul 2012 15:00

I understand your concern Eagle,I suppose it depends a lot on how shoddily built the building are, if they need renovating for example then it could be good money after bad.

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