PLANS for two new state-of-the-art academies in Dudley and Kingswinford are set to be scrapped due to lack of cash, the News can exclusively reveal.

The council had been pressing ahead with plans to replace Castle High and Crestwood/Pensnett Schools with two new Oasis academies - since losing out last summer on a bid for £200m Building Schools for the Future (BSF) cash to revamp every secondary in the borough.

And the new super schools, run by Christian organisation Oasis Community Learning, were on course to open in September 2009.

But in a document leaked to the press this week, Councillor Liz Walker - Dudley’s cabinet member for children’s services, has revealed the council does not have enough money to meet the hefty start-up costs.

In an email to councillors she states: “Some funding is available from the Department but the grant does not cover the full set up costs. We do not have any alternative means of funding currently identified.”

She says indicative grants from the Department for Children, Schools and Families for the projects would total £17.2m for Castle High and £19.4m for Crestwood/Pensnett.

But the average cost of a new secondary school (quoted in the House of Commons in October last year) was around £26m.

However, all is not lost for education in Dudley.

The borough has now been included in the revised national programme for BSF cash - and now ranks number five on the list for possible inclusion in waves seven to 13 of the Government initiative, which aims to transform secondary schools across the country.

Cllr Walker said in her email: “We shall be recommending that we do not proceed with either academy proposal for Dudley and revise our ‘readiness to deliver’ document to allow us to enter the national BSF programme where we are listed as fifth in the indicative programme which was published last week.

“The revised document will take into account the needs of all children and young people in the borough and allow us to use the limited funding when it becomes available for the good of all.”

It is understood that a report, recommending the council abandons the academies plan, is being prepared by the director of children’s services to go to the next council cabinet meeting on Wednesday March 18.

Dudley’s shadow cabinet member for children’s services - Councillor Tim Crumpton - said: “I have been briefed that the intention is that a cabinet paper will be published on Friday for the cabinet meeting on March 18th."

He added: “I can absolutely welcome the fact that we are now fifth on the Building Schools for the Future list.”