Leader of the Labour group
Northumberland County Council
As Alnwick’s resident Tory Gordon Castle has kindly asked me to explain the complexities of the school funding deal Northumberland’s Liberals have entered into, I’ll see if I can do him justice. In Voice of the North (23 Nov), Councillor Castle reminded me (and readers I hope) that council motions can be revisited ‘in 6 months’ and he asked why I hadn’t acknowledged that fact when commenting on his wholly irrelevant and piecemeal motion to last Full Council.
So for the benefit of Councillor Castle and any other Tories who are ‘in the dark’ about how school building is funded under their own coalition government, he we go.
The council was asked by his own government to give a commitment to ‘set aside funds’ to assist with the construction of three schools; Alnwick, Bedlington and Prudhoe. His motion, and he admits this too, asked the council to commit even further than his own government and then give a promise to fund more equipment. So in times of austerity, where councils are being asked to sack thousands, cut services to the most vulnerable, reduce its basic services and basically shrink, Councillor Castle wants to go even further than his own government funding for three schools which won’t be built under this current council which concludes in May 2013. In fact, the next council will build one and start up another but the third (Prudhoe) won’t be built until after 2017. So I’m afraid Councillor Castle and his Tory colleagues are ‘playing a political game here’, making reckless promises and ‘spinning’ for all their worth.
So I’m afraid that Councillor Castle has to take his place with his leader, Councillor Jackson in the class ‘that must do better’. He needs to get his sums right before sallying forth on his latest wheeze and I’m just wondering where both the Liberals and the Tories have found a ‘money tree in Northumberland’ because all of this additional spending has to be paid for?
Councillor Castle BA Hons