Depute Leader of the SNP Council Group on Dumfries & Galloway Council Jim McClung today (Wednesday) hit out at the decision by Labour Leader Ronnie Nicolson to refuse to debate controversial cuts to the Council’s Additional Support for Learning budget and the subsequent decision to use money set aside to mitigate the impact of the cuts to fill a hole in the Education Department finances.
The SNP Council Group, with support from Independent, Lib-Dem and Non-Aligned Councillors, had requisitioned a meeting of the Full Council to reconsider the decision to divert funding away from ASL mitigation. However, the Leader of the Council ruled the move incompetent and refused to allow the item to be debated.
Following the meeting, Cllr McClung commented:
“This is yet another example of the arrogance and intransigence of this Labour-led Council, refusing to debate a serious issue with significant implications for the services involved. The SNP Group opposed this year’s cuts to ASL provision and proposed a viable alternative in our budget.
“We also urged the Leader to postpone the Council’s budget-setting until we knew what the implications of the Scottish Government’s position on teacher numbers was, which he refused to do. It was his refusal to do that which led to a hole in the Education Department’s budget, which has now been plugged with funds specifically set aside to deal with any unforeseen consequences of the ASL review.
“People who have been concerned by the cuts in ASL provision may well have been reassured by the fact that money was set aside – only to find that too has been removed.
“To add insult to injury today he wouldn’t even permit the matter to be debated by the Full Council, even though it is Full Council that sets the budget and the allocations of policy development money – and in our view the only body that can make the changes that were forced through at Education Committee.
“There’s a limit to how long this arrogant Administration can carry on stifling debate and the reasonable scrutiny of legitimate concerns.”