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Heads' books could shift balance

just six of Torbay's 36 seats are held by the Liberal Democrats but the Devon council is one of their election targets.

Steve Darling, acting leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said schools funding will be an issue in the election for the Conservative-held borough.

A pound;1 million shortfall means the authority's 33 primary schools are making 47 teachers and support staff redundant to balance their books. Secondaries are expected to cut costs by not renewing contracts which end in July.

David Gray, of the National Association of Head Teachers, said heads wanted a council tax rise 2 per cent higher than the council's proposed 12 per cent increase to cover the shortfall. But the council refused.

Christine Weston, portfolio holder for lifelong learning, said: "Government underfunding is the problem with education. We have passed on the government allocation to schools and put in pound;750,000 on top. It is still not enough."

Labour, the UK Independence party, the British National party and two independents are also standing.

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