At Devon County Council’s budget meeting on 16th Feb the Conservative majority voted down an amendment from the Lib Dem group which would have replaced the £2.2 m of funding for Devon Schools which the Conservative Cabinet at County Hall had cut.
Barnstaple Lib Dem County Councillor Brian Greenslade said “I cannot believe that Conservative County Councillors who attended the North Devon Executive meeting yesterday and wept tears over the loss of funding for our schools, heard Head Teachers explain the impact this would have, all voted to make this cut.
Yet another example of Conservative County Councillors talking the talk in North Devon but when at County Hall doing what the Tory whips say!”.
Prior to this Devon CC Councillors had issued the following statement:
School cuts worth £2.2 million will be avoided if a plan put forward by Devon's Liberal Democrats is backed by councillors on Thursday (16th February).
Head teachers across the county are furious about an extra cut, worth £33 per child, from school budgets being imposed by Conservative run Devon County Council.
The cut piles on even more pressure for teachers and school governors who struggle to stretch budgets and protect education for our children, said Cllr Alan Connett, Liberal Democrat opposition leader at County Hall.
The county is already heavily underfunded by the Government which gives schools in Devon £290 LESS per child than the national average, he added.
When the County Council meets on Thursday (16th) to approve its budget and the Council Tax for the coming 12 months, Devon's Liberal Democrats will push for the £2.2 million to be given back to schools.
Cllr Connett, explained: "We want to protect Devon's schools from a cut which does not need to be made.
"The county is sitting on a cash pile of nearly £11 million for what it calls 'service transformation'. We can use some of that money to save our schools while we continue to press the Government for a better deal for Devon.
"Last year, the Conservatives scrapped funding for school crossing patrols - the Lollipop men and women - but after concerns raised by us, parents and many others, they realised they had made a mistake and did a U-turn.
"Chopping out a further £2.2 million from schools is another huge mistake. If the Conservatives go ahead, it will certainly transform schools across Devon - for the worse. I fear it will lead to teachers and other staff being made redundant.
"Children get one chance to do well at school. We need to support our schools and teachers."
The Lib Dems have also announced plans to recruit up to five School Traffic Safety Officers to work with schools on ensuring children can walk to and from schools safely. Part of the council's traffic management service, the officers would also monitor compliance with traffic regulations around the county's schools.
The estimated £200,000 for the new service would be paid for by cutting the money Devon County Council is spending on renting rooms in hotels and other places for meetings. Currently, the council spend £33,000 a month on renting rooms, around £400,000 a year.
An extra £1 million will also be targeted at pothole repairs and dealing with highway drainage problems. Potholes are one of the biggest issues raised by residents who feel the County Council is simply not tackling the problem. The money will mainly come by cutting £700,000 from the £2million a year the Conservatives now spend on public relations, media and advertising.
With the rise in sales of electric cars, the Lib Dems also propose a trial programme to install 12 electric charging points across the county using money raised from the County Council's on-street parking charges. A budget of £40,000 is proposed, which will also help generate an income as drivers have to pay to charge their electric vehicles.
Cllr Connett added: "Devon is being short-changed by the Government, that's the bottom line. We hear other councils may be getting extra funding through some kind of 'sweetheart' deal with Downing Street, but our NHS and schools are being treated as the poor cousins.
"Money is tight in Devon, but we have again shown that the cuts the Conservatives want to impose on our schools are avoidable. It's the Conservatives' decision to make these cuts."