The trust may own the freehold but that doesn't mean they can do whatever they want with it. They cannot sell it or any part of it. They can only use it to run a school. If at some time in the future the trust stops running the school the freehold will usually revert back to public ownership. The main exception is that if the land is no longer required for use as a school the trust can retain ownership by paying the market price for the land and buildings at the date of the school's closure.
So, how is this value for money for the taxpayer? Because the academy trust now owns the buildings the LA is not the school's landlord and therefore does not have any liability. The academy trust is fully liable for everything associated with the land and buildings. That potentially saves the LA some money. And if at some point in the future the land and buildings are no longer required by the school ownership will revert to the LA, so the LA hasn't lost out on the value of the property. As far as I can see it is all positive for the taxpayer.
On the other hand you are quite right to say that the land reverts to "public ownership" if they stop running the school. But it will be the Secretary of State and not the local council who will own it. A detail which matters.
This one seems to originate, that is began, as a charity set up in 1969 as a memorial to a young woman, killed in a car crash, whilst on her honeymoon. This was, and is, the Ormiston Trust. They more recently set up the Academy trust.
Now while I disagree with land and buildings being transferred from public to private ownership in this way, I do think that a transfer to a private charity is less objectionable than a transfer to a Trust controlled by a commercial company which is also happening elesewhere.
I say "less objectionable" but only just, because what is happening here is that public assets are being placed in the control of a private group, in this case a family, and in perpetuity. They may be good, charitable people now, but why should the personal foibles of a family have such influence over the deployment of public assets? and who knows about the next generation?
They can sell it, or any part of it, if they get permission from the Secretary of State to do so.
Try looking at the Academies Act 2010 Schedule 1 paragraph 6(6). If they want to dispose part of the land the Secretary of State will normally make an order under which it reverts to the LA.
But it will be the Secretary of State and not the local council who will own it.
Again, look at the Schedule 1 paragraph 7(6). It doesn't go to the Secretary of State. It goes to "such local authority as the Secretary of State may specify". The expectation is that this would be the LA that originally owned the land or their successors.
disgrace beyond disgrace of a government of the rich for the rich
Read my post. The academy trust cannot profit from the transfer of this land.
A gift if you will
Indeed. But a gift which comes with costs and no financial benefits other than the fact that the academy won't have a landlord.
sanfairyanne - Just to add that if this really was a transfer to allow private individuals to benefit from publicly owned assets the Labour party would be shouting it from the rooftops. They aren't because it isn't.