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Wokingham Lib Dems attack Tory Leader's complacency on Education Funding crisis

May 16, 2003 12:00 AM

At Wokingham District Council's Annual Meeting last night, the Liberal Democrat opposition urged the Leader of the Council, Frank Browne, to take urgent action to address the education funding crisis facing many schools in the district.

Councillor Coling Lawley (Deputy Group Leader of the Lib Dem Group) said, "The Tory Leader outlined his Group's priorities for the coming year, and no mention whatsoever was made of the funding crisis facing many of our schools. Although we pressed Frank Browne on this, he refused even to acknowledge the problem. We were shocked by his complacency on this issue."

Councillor Stephen Conway (Chairman of the Lib Dem Group) said, "Parents, governors and teachers rightly expect support from this Council. I would have expected a published statement that identifies the "key priorities for this administration" to explain the administration's plans for tackling this crisis. They can't keep blaming the Government, because they can choose to allocate more money to our schools if they want.

"We find it difficult to believe that the Tory Leader has no plans to tackle this funding crisis, but his refusal to accept that there is a problem demonstrates he does not regard the well-being of our schools as one of his priorities."

Coling Lawley said that many schools are considering sacking staff because of the shortage of funds. In addition, money earmarked for school repairs and maintenance will have to be used to fund essential school costs. Coling Lawley said, "The school maintenance backlog is at an all-time high of £32 million, so it is no help telling our schools they must now use their maintenance budget to pay for school staff."