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Recess city

Dundee's education committee reached a speedy decision during budget deliberations last week: and agreed on a recess. As councillors filed back in, they took a second major decision: a further recess. This is yet another of the many legacies bequeathed by Tayside Region.

John Kemp, the council's education convener, started the ball rolling by moving a 15-minute break to let each of the political groups see each other's savings plans. SNP leader John Corrigan then counter-moved that this was not long enough and was granted 30 minutes.

Corrigan followed up by circulating his proposals, all two lines of them. "Surely it won't take half an hour to read this," one observer responded. "But it will take a lifetime to understand it," another replied. Yes, it's lifetime learning again.

The SNP's big idea was to lift the axe from the six schools under threat and move Clepington primary into the vacated annexe of Morgan Academy. This is also proposed by Labour, but the SNP is pressing for an earlier move.

Clepington has friends in high places. It is in Mervyn Rolfe's council ward and since Tayside's former education convener and Lord Provost-to-be of Dundee was recovering from an operation last week there was no way the education committee was going to do the dirty.

After the recess, another one of 10 minutes ensued since the Tories had not produced their alternative budget. "We had to rehash some of our proposals, " an unusually apologetic Neil Powrie, the Tories' pugnacious leader, explained. When they had been fully rehashed, the Tory group had found another Pounds 865,000 in savings.

It was time for the usual pleasantries to resume. "I wish I was unconscious when you were speaking," Powrie told Kemp, mustering all the charm at his command.

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