Conservative councils found funds through others losing out

30th May 1997 at 01:00
The article "Tory council victors overturn cash cuts" (TES, May 16) requires some background information. The article names Hampshire as agreeing an increase to the education budget, with Cambridge and West Sussex giving promises to do the same.

Living, working and teaching in Hampshire, I know that the election statements from all Tory county council candidates in the area contained a version of the following statements: * Liberal Democrats increased the education budget this year by only 1.5 per cent when they actually received 3.3 per cent from the Government for education in Hampshire.

* "The Labour party has been a willing partner to the Liberal Democrats".

The fact that the Local Government Settlement was inadequate to protect other front-line services from inflation was not mentioned.

A 3.3 per cent rise in the education budget would have only allowed it to stand still when inflation is considered. What the Tories failed to say was that if 3.3 per cent was put into the education budget then massive cuts to other essential services would have occurred, instead of a smaller cut for all. If Hampshire Conservatives have "found" Pounds 2.2 million, I hope they can "find" the remaining part of the "missing 1.8 per cent" (see above) which I calculate as Pounds 5.5m, I suspect that other services will have to suffer to "find" this money.

The comment from John Sutton, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, that the decision by the Tories was "amazing" is absolutely right considering the underfunding of education by the previous Tory government. More "amazing" is the fact that when a delegation of Hampshire county councillors sought a better settlement from the previous Tory government, not one Tory councillor went to lobby for their constituents.

The Tories have put up a concerted effort to win back the county councils, and would like us to have "good news stories". I believe that your article is one of them. As a teacher, I should welcome more funding, but I want to know from where it was "found".


6 Woodlands Court

Ashurst, Southampton

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