AN OUTSPOKEN councillor has accused Flintshire Council of failing school children.
Councillor Bernie Attridge blasted the council at a special budget meeting at County Hall yesterday when it was revealed that millions of pounds allocated to the county’s schools from the Welsh Assembly was not being spent on education.
The council’s head of finance Kerry Feather explained that around £4.4 million would not be spent directly on schools after a decision was taken in the 2010-11 budget to spend just 95.9 per cent of the indicative level of funding (IBA).
Cllr Attridge said: “The facts are clear that this administration is failing our school children by millions of pounds.
"The spend per pupil is rock bottom, we are 22nd out of 22 local authorities, we can’t get any lower.”
But leader of the council Arnold Woolley said the approach to this year’s budget had in fact safeguarded the future of the schools.
He said: “We have chosen to go down the difficult route which is to sustain schools.
It may be that we can’t fund them as well as we would wish, it may be that they are asked to make every saving they can, but we will not go down the route the WAG wanted us to, which is to look at schools with below 93 pupils and close them.”
The council also came under fire for failing to prepare for the future.
Cllr Aaron Shotton said: “This budget should have been used as a window of opportunity to protect frontline services. Where is the evidence that has been taken on board?
“Here is a clear failure to prepare for the future. It’s a budget without strategy, planning and sustainability.
"The biggest scandal is that our schools have been denied money that should have been passported to them from Welsh Assembly funding.”
But Cllr Woolley defended the proposed budget.
He added: “This budget is setting a firm base for an awkward future. This budget is balanced, proven and achievable and this council has put as much money into education as there has been in past years.”
Members voted to approve the budget.
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