Ford accuses administration of burying education enquiry

EAST Garioch Cllr Martin Ford has attacked Aberdeenshire’s Lib-Con-Ind-Lab administration, after a proposed inquiry into cuts to pupil support was, he says, buried.

The Independent councillor pointed to promises given by the administration on September 27 that the issue would be looked at in depth by the local authority’s Scrutiny and Audit Committee. However, representatives from the committee have indicated since then that no such review had been scheduled, but that the committee would have input to a review organised by the education service.

Cllr Ford had proposed that the shire use renewable energy investment to generate a revenue stream to fund pupil support in the shire. However, his motion was defeated by the administration which countered that the council has already invested in renewable energy, and that ‘the Scrutiny and Audit Committee already had an evidence based review of the new model of pupil support assistants in their workplan and deficiencies identified would be remedied.’

Council Leader Cllr Jim Gifford strenuously defended the council’s record, however, describing Cllr Ford’s allegations that the council had been miseld as ‘spurious’.

He said: “This is a spurious accusation, Cllr Ford has accused me of misleading the council and he’s absolutely wrong. Firstly, the council is already investing in renewable energy, and we’re waiting to see how that works out. Secondly, pupils who need support in the shire get it. We currently have 964 full time equivalent staff working as pupil support assistants, with a budget of over £9 million - we’ve got a huge commitment to pupil support.

“The Scrutiny and Audit committee and education service are doing exactly what we said they would do.”