Monday, June 14, 2010

Gove snubs Darlington's BSF Delegation

For those of us who love consensus (and that includes most members of the public) Darlington's political parties have shown admirable restraint by agreeing to work together on the Borough's Building Schools for the Future bid.

Cllrs. Williams, Scott and Swainston, for Labour, the Tories and LibDems respectively, requested a meeting with the Minsiter to press Darlington's case for the much-needed investment.

The stakes are high - £42 million high, to be precise, the cost of remodelling the outdated Branksome, Hurworth and Longfield schools.

The first fruit of the spirit of co-operation has received a dusty answer from the Coalition, however. Michael Gove, the Secretary of State, has said that he is just too busy to bother himself with this at the moment. Well, ok, what a civil servant wrote was "unfortunately, owing to pressures on his diary, the Secretary of State is unable to meet with you at present." But you get the idea.

It's a shame, because it's good to see the local political establishment, in the shape of the 3 parties, together with schools, parents and pupils working together to a shared objective.

Elsewhere, more evidence has emerged of the Coalition's antipathy to the North East in the recently announced cuts to education spending. ANEC (the Asssociation of North East Councils) states that the Department for Education’s grant reduction to local government is to be taken from the Area Based Grant (ABG) in 2010/11, which amounts to £311 million.

The proposed cut to the ABG by a standard percentage of 24% will amount to a reduction of £19.982 million in the North East, which equates to £39.14 per child, compared with an England average of £28.92 per child - a reduction of over £10 per child more and an extra £5.2 million across the region.

Reacting to the announcement Cllr Paul Watson, Chair of the Association of North East Councils, said: “Such reductions and disparities in funding appear to run counter to the Coalition Government’s commitment to fairness, the need to address and eradicate child poverty across the country and measures aimed at reducing regional disparities. We are, therefore, concerned that the level of in-year reductions being proposed will place an even greater burden on children in areas facing higher levels of deprivation.

“We all recognise the need for the Government to make efficiency savings in the national interest and are willing to work in partnership with Government to achieve these. What we must avoid, however, is spending reductions having a disproportionate impact on this area of the country. All councils in the North East will have difficulties in achieving the level of in-year reductions we now face, which will have a significant impact on service delivery."

Indeed. The Northern Echo's headline about Cameron targetting the North East for 'special treatment' before the election is now looking particularly prescient.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes.....

Nick I am getting worried. The allocation was originally £57 Million and now it's down to £42 Million. I also read this figure in the Northern Echo. Where has the £15 Million gone?

We should press for the full £57 Million which was promised by the last Government and not settle for £42 Million.

Martin who? said...

yes Alan we should but lets all get realistic here we are getting nothing. Clearly big Dave et al are all "to busy" to even think about Darlington schools...next week it will be £33M and so on, you get the picture :(

What else did anyone really expect, yes it is good to see all party's working together just a bit like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

Good to see Cllr Swainston is still alive and well, he has become somewhat of a urban myth dare I say legend out here in Hurworth by his noticable abscence and is very rarely seen, with Cllr Dunston being the main face to see out and about working for residents.

First the Lib's sell their voters out by forming the ConDemned alliance then try to look good repairing the inevitable damage they caused to school funding by doing so??? Hypocracy!

Nick says "All councils in the North East will have difficulties in achieving the level of in-year reductions we now face"

I think there is many, many of us readers who could clean out DBC and weed away some of the "none jobs" as well as reduce running costs an example would be Councillors computers...why should every Councillor get a computer and its connection paid for it should come from their allowance....How many people at DBC HQ all have Blackberries on expensive tarrifs...not necessary, but once again an allowance optional extra if they wished to use their allowance for them.

Council members getting special responsability allowances should also be stopped. Give the 5 or so top staff , Brown, Burns etc. on £120K+ a pay reduction. The Town Crier my pet hate should go!!!, cut down on photocopiers they are expensive and postage waste....I could go on.

Perhaps a suggestion box is needed in the Town Hall to save money, the tax payer can think of many ways to save, granted not all practical but suggestions none the less, but lets be honest those on the gravy train don't suggestions they don't want to lose their perks they would rather reduce the number of front line staff and greedily keep all they can, they do not work for any civic pride anylonger it is a full time job milking the allowances at DBC just like the MP's!

So don't plead poverty on here your rich Councillors and cabinet members and don't cry on about poor school buildings when you then send your kids to private school!