Ruth Reed ends RIBA presidency with final shot at Gove
Outgoing RIBA president Ruth Reed has aimed a parting shot at the industry’s nemesis by saying Michael Gove’s free schools initiative will cost more than budgeted.
This week the government said 24 free schools would be open for business later this month at a total capital cost of up to £130 million. The education secretary said this amounted to just 2.6% of the department’s £5 billion capital budget for the current financial year.
But Reed said that costs had been skewed because local communities had pitched in to get the schools up and running.
“I don’t want to decry the efforts of the community groups but a lot have donated labour and materials for free. We just don’t know how much has been gifted.”
She added: “Converting existing buildings is often more expensive than new build because these buildings have issues that you wouldn’t face if you were starting from scratch.”
Reed said Gove had caused “great damage” by accusing architects of “creaming off cash” during the previous government’s BSF programme.
“I got the impression he spoke in shorthand and said architects when he meant consultants,” she added. “Sadly we’ve been unable to dispel the myth that we all made lots of money out of BSF. We got stuck with what he said.”