Special needs education has far too often been the Cinderella of pubic provision. So I was happy to read of Liverpool Council’s plans to build two new special needs facilities on the old Dyson Hall site in Fazakerley. A gold star for the council, I thought.
I note that one facility is being transferred from Netherley; the other is a new partnership with an outside provider (from Bolton). Of course, when it comes to special needs provision – for very good reasons – it is often necessary for children to be ferried across the city to where their particular needs might be catered for.
Then I noticed that yet another planning application has been lodged for a third facility. This is another new build alongside Aigburth High School, with a capacity of one hundred and twenty pupils. Recognising the positive angle to this obvious commitment to children who most need educational investment, I did, however, wonder about the empty but new school of Parklands in Speke. This failed project is currently costing the council tax payer £4.3 million each year, and is lying empty. Now, I am neither an accountant nor an architect, but I cannot help but ask if that school cannot be converted in some way, to meet a combination of special needs provision and local community use. Does Liverpool Council have the flexibility and innovative thinking required? We might just save on the extra cost of these new builds.
Incidentally, in planning, there is an application for hundreds more new flats at Queens Dock. There are two partners listed for this project. One is a company only set up at the end of last October (the plans were submitted in April); the other is a company registered in Luxembourg with no registered officers or executives. Interesting.