PLANS to transfer school land to a proposed academy trust have been delayed.

Blackburn with Darwen Council’s executive board had been expected to ratify proposals to transfer the council’s freehold of Blackburn Central High School with Crosshill to the Champion Education Trust at a meeting on Thursday.

But fears were raised by former council governor services manager, Sean Rogers that there were deficiencies in the consultation and issues around the governance of Blackburn Central High School.

Mr Rogers said the school’s governing body was illegal because just five of the 12 governors had been appointed by the East Blackburn Community Learning Trust, when government guidance says a majority must be trust-appointed.

And council bosses moved to assure Mr Rogers that the land transfer would not go ahead until assurances had been received that the issues had been resolved.

Executive member for education, Cllr Maureen Bateson, said a further report would be brought before the executive board as soon as possible.

Mr Rogers told executive board members: "This mess clearly needs sorting out.

"It is clear for whatever reason the executive board has been placed in a highly unsatisfactory situation by the failure to address this matter in a proper and timely fashion.

"I am also quite clear that if the executive board proceeds with the recommendations in the report, that will not be the end of this matter as it will be acting in a totally unsound and reckless manner.

"It needs to pause the process to transfer the Haslingden Road site and instruct officers to set about unravelling the problems created by illegal composition of the governing body of Blackburn Central High School, as well as associated matters.

"In my view, the executive board should also review what appears to be on the part of senior officers, a blanket policy of supporting all academy conversion without effectively testing the merits of each proposal."

Cllr Bateson said: "The director of children's services, Jayne Ivory, is here and I'm sure she's taking account of the issues you have raised.

"The trust has its own access to legal advice and they should be looking at these issues as well.

"We will be assessing this very carefully and a further report will come back before the executive board. The transfer to the academy trust will not take place in May.

"When it happens depends on the answers we get back from the schools as to whether we can be satisfied about the governance arrangements.

"If we can't get those answers, the school might have to revise its' timetable."

The next executive board meeting will be held in June.

Converting to an academy would free the school from local authority control and leave only St Bede’s RC High School and Our Lady and St John Catholic Arts College under council control.

It will allow the school to take charge of finances, give more freedom over the curriculum and take charge of their admissions.

The £24million site opened its doors in 2012 after Blakewater College and Crosshill School moved.

If the transfer is approved in the future, the buildings and playing fields will transfer to the trust but should anything change, they would not be able to sell the site off or use it for non-educational purposes without the council's consent.