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Shetland split on school cuts

Outside consultants should be brought in to recommend savings in Shetland's Pounds 23 million education budget, the islands council's policy and resources committee will be told on Monday.

But plans for advisers, possibly a team from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, to review education spending will be strongly opposed by Bill Smith, the long-standing education convener.

An elite group of eight councillors in the Strategic Review Advisory Panel, having failed this year to produce savings in the largest spending department, are backing an independent review.

Mr Smith said this week he was "disappointed" at the panel's recommendation. "We do not need consultants to tell us what level of education we need. This could be managed locally," he insisted.

A package of cuts submitted by the education department and the education committee had been rejected by the full council. "We were accused of putting forward sacred cows we knew would not be accepted," he said.

The education department was facing an 8.2 per cent cut, of Pounds 2 million, but this was reduced by more than Pounds 1 million after the council dipped into reserves. There is still a shortfall of nearly Pounds 900,000.

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