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Council to cut learning support jobs

Parents of those who benefit from additional needs services expressed concern over the cuts when they were proposed Credit: ITV Border

Dumfries and Galloway Council has approved its budget for 2015/16 to 2017/18.

It has decided to cut 52 learning support jobs in an effort to make savings of £32 million.

Parents throughout the county have expressed concern over these cuts, with the Scottish Children's Commissioner writing a letter yesterday that called for a delay to the decision.

Council 'surprised' to receive letter.

The council was surprised to receive the letter Credit: Scotland’s Commissioner for Children & Young People

The Dumfries and Galloway Council has said it was surprised to receive a letter from Scotland’s Commissioner for Children & Young People.

Tam Baillie's letter called for a delay to the council's decision to cut over fifty learning support jobs.

The council claims that Mr Baillie had failed to contact them before entering into the debate.

"In light of the media interest on Monday, the Council had already contacted the Commissioner’s office to give assurance as well as to provide summary information on the review and the necessary background and also offer the opportunity to engage with the Council.

"It would appear the Commissioner sent his letter before he had the opportunity to review any of this information or speak directly with the Council.

"Apart from this letter, the Commissioner has not contacted the Council, however the Council has again offered the Commissioner the opportunity to engage with our education team on these proposals and we hope he takes up this offer."

– Spokesperson, Dumfries and Galloway Council

The council's decision over the cuts is due today.

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MSPs approve Scottish Government's budget

MSPs voted today to approve the Finance Secretary's budget Credit: David Cheskin/PA Wire

MSPs voted this afternoon to approve the Scottish Government's spending plans for the year ahead.

The Deputy First Minister and Finance Secretary John Swinney said his priorities were measures to tackle inequality and boost the economy.

His budget included extra money to expand childcare provision and to provide free school meals for all pupils in the first three years of primary schools.

His opponents say more money should have been allocated to the NHS.

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More than 1000 signatures on petition against bank closures

Natwest has already closed Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire

A petition with more than 1000 signatures against the closure of two rural banks in Cumbria has been handed to the Government.

Natwest in Sedbergh has already closed, and Barclays will also in two weeks time.

The petition has been signed by both businesses and residents.

Banking can still be done in the town's post office and Natwest has agreed for one of its mobile branches to visit twice a week.

Children's tsar wades into learning support row

The letter asks the council to delay its decision on the proposals. Credit: Scotland’s Commissioner for Children & Young People

Scotland's Children's Commissioner has entered the row over proposed learning support cuts in Dumfries and Galloway.

At Dumfries and Galloway Council's budget meeting tomorrow, February 5, the decision on whether to axe 52 learning support jobs in the county will be taken.

But Tam Baillie is concerned by the proposals:

"I am writing to express my concern at proposals currently being considered by Dumfries & Galloway Council. These proposals would, I understand, reduce the number Learning Support Staff employed by the Council by a minimum of 52.8 FTE over the next 3 years.

"Whilst I appreciate that Dumfries & Galloway Council, in common with all Local Authorities, is operating under increasing financial pressures, I am concerned that these current proposals will impact upon the most vulnerable children and young people in Dumfries and Galloway. This includes disabled children and young people, those with caring responsibilities and those requiring more short-term targeted support (e.g. after a bereavement).

"The proposals appear to suggest that ASL provision will be greatly reduced, focused mainly on areas of Multiple Deprivation, and that children and young people will find it much more difficult to access the support they need. For some children these changes may remove their right to participate fully in school life."

– Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children & Young People

He's calling for the decision to be delayed:

"I am aware that the Council is due to make a decision on this proposal on Thursday, 5th February, 2015. I believe, however, that the Council should pause and take stock.

"I would suggest that the Council carry out a Children’s Rights Impact Assessment (CRIA) before any substantive decisions are taken, in order to fully assess the potential impact of these proposals from a children’s rights perspective."

– Tam Baillie, Scotland’s Commissioner for Children & Young People

Eden District Council’s Executive agrees on budget

Eden District Council is considering a 1.99% in Council Tax Credit: ItV

Last night, Eden District Council’s Executive agreed a budget to recommend to Council.

It follows a period of consultation on the draft budget.

There are no proposals to reduce services, although a 1.99% rise in Council Tax is being considered, which would be an increase of £3.61 a year.

“We are considering a Council Tax increase of a modest 1.99%. The effect on households will be an increase of 7p per week.

"We have frozen our car parking charges. We did freeze our Council Tax for a number of years. If we do not increase our Council Tax in-line with inflation it will be difficult to maintain our existing services in future years".

– Cllr Gordon Nicolson
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