BOLTON Council’s children’s chief fears borrowing from future funding to expand the borough’s schools could leave the authority unable to meet demand further down the line.

Town hall chiefs have successfully lobbied the government to allow it to “draw down” £21.5m from future Basic Need funding, which has not yet been formally allocated.

Cllr Ann Cunliffe, executive cabinet member for children’s services, recently gave the nod for officers to develop proposals and budget estimates to expand six primary schools, including Markland Hill Primary School in Heaton, Gilnow Primary School in Deane and Bolton St Catherine’s Academy.

Council chiefs will also look into expanding Walmsley CE Primary School once approved housebuilding has commenced at the Last Drop site.

The money is also being used to fund a previously agreed seven secondary school expansion programme, which includes Westhoughton High School, Sharples Academy and Ladybridge High School.

Cllr Cunliffe said she was glad the council’s lobbying of the government had been successful, but feared the authority could find its hands tied further into the future.

She said: “Whilst it is good news that we have been able to draw down future funding it will affect what we get in the future for further expansions should they be needed.”

Each primary school proposal remains subject to the Basic Needs funding covering its cost and feasibility studies which will look at a range of factors such as the suitability of the land, traffic generation, and school travel plans.

Cllr Cunliffe said: “It’s a very, very tight budget with all these projects so the feasibility study is really important to keep them within budget.

“Then we have future needs and future pressure to think of as well - and that’s what worries me, as we are using money from future spend.”

The children’s chief added she was mindful that, if a significant number of houses were to be built in the borough in future, demand for places would increase still further.

She said: “If we get a big surge in building we are going to need more school places. We have got this lump of money and it’s very important we bring things in on budget

“There is a lot of housebuilding at the moment in Bolton and the borough is popular for people to move here to access job opportunities such as at Logistics North.

“Businesses also want to invest so there is a need for schools and to look at the needs of our children.”