Councils hit be the cancellation of the Building Schools for the Future programme have said they will try to keep the work going.
Education secretary Michael Gove has halted work on some 700 schools approved under the previous government’s £50bn programme, which he said had failed to give good value for money.
Kent CC, which had the largest single programme at £1.8bn, pinned its hopes on chancellor George Osborne’s Budget statement in which he supported the continuation of “well-judged capital spending”.
Leader Paul Carter (Con), said: “I have been surprised and disappointed by the scale of the announcement, which brings to an end the Building Schools for the Future programme for 40 secondary schools and means significant uncertainty for eight new academies.
“We must now work with the coalition government to help them bring the public finances of this country under control. At the same time, we will work with them to make sure Kent receives as much as possible from a more limited capital programme to improve school facilities across the county.
He said there was “hope in George Osborne’s emergency budget speech”, because of the reference to the need to continue capital spending.
Staffordshire CC deputy leader Ian Parry (Con) said: “The county council has put enormous effort into BSF and spent around £4m getting to this stage. But much of that effort and cost was dictated by the ludicrous government-imposed bureaucracy that enveloped every aspect of the project.
“As an authority we have always said we could achieve the same results as BSF at half the cost.”
Stockton-on-Tees BC cabinet member for children and young people
Ann McCoy (Lab) said: “This misguided announcement came as a bitterly disappointing blow.”
She said Stockton’s £180m programme would be put to the team that will review school capital programmes.
The creation of two academies would still go ahead this September.