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ANGUS COUNCIL

MINUTE of SPECIAL MEETING of the EDUCATION COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Friday 21 February 1997 at 4.20 pm.

Present: Councillors BRIAN MILNE, WALLIE LEASK, GEORGE ALLAN, HELEN ANGUS, Mrs FRANCES DUNCAN, Mrs RENATE LAMONT, GLENNIS MIDDLETON, GEORGE NORRIE, KATHLEEN RITCHIE, RICHARD SPEIRS, SHEENA WELSH and SANDY WEST; Rev Dr R MACKENZIE, Mr PETER ANDREWS and Mr BRIAN McHARDY.

Apologies: Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Councillor JACK GIBB; Father M MILTON and Ms M KINGSTON.

Councillor MILNE, Convener, in the Chair.

1. PROVISIONAL REVENUE BUDGET 1997/98

There were submitted (a) Report No 214/97 by the Director of Finance being the Summary Progress and Background Report on the Provisional Revenue Budget 1997/98; (b) Report No 215/97 by the Director of Finance being the Provisional Revenue Budget Volume including a commentary by each Head of Department and (c) Report No 216/97 by the Director of Finance being the Departmental Savings Proposals Volume.

After hearing Mr Brian McHardy regarding the meeting of the JCC (Teachers) earlier in the day, and after discussion, the Committee agreed:-

(1) to note the revised Education budget submission for 1997/98 as contained in pages 6 to 23 of the Provisional Revenue Budget Volume (Report No 215/97) and the savings proposals as contained in pages 5 to 10 of the Departmental Savings Proposals Volume (Report No 216/97);

(2) to note the views of the Teachers representatives on the JCC (Teachers) arising from their meeting held earlier in the day;

(3) to note that the category A budget savings which related to reviews of charges, namely savings A-2, A-12, A-18 and A-24 had been approved by the Education Committee on 21 January 1997 (Report No 87/97);

(4) to note that in terms of a SOPA Circular, dated 19 February 1997, the proposed saving in superannuation costs (Reference Educ-B-7) had been reduced by £85,000;

(5) to instruct the Director of Education, in consultation with the Director of Finance, to bring forward to the Council Tax setting meeting on 6 March 1997 alternative savings from the Education Budget in place of this £85,000 which would not impact directly on front line service delivery, having regard to the additional capping flexibility announced by the Secretary of State;

(6) to agree that the increase to the Angus Council capping limit for 1997/98 of £242,000, as identified in Report No 277/97, be utilised to reduce the level of Category C unacceptable savings within the Education Department budget proposals;

(7) to approve, in principle, the category A and category B savings for the Education Department totalling £1,421,000 (being the original £1,506,000 less £85,000 in respect of saving reference Educ-B-7) but to reject the category C savings totalling £985,000 (being the original £1,227,000 less £242,000 in respect of the Council’s increased capping limit), subject to further discussions with the Teacher representatives to agree minor adjustments to the savings which would not alter the level of total savings agreed;

(8) to approve the revised budget net expenditure for the Education Department resulting therefrom and to advise the Council at the Council Tax setting meeting on 6 March 1997 accordingly; and

(9) to instruct the Director of Finance to bring forward savings of a corporate nature which would not impact on front line service delivery, to meet the ££985,000 shortfall in the Education Department budget savings target, to the Council Tax setting meeting on 6 March 1997.

The Committee further agreed:-

(1) to deplore the effective reduction in expenditure on Education implicit in the 1997/98 grant settlement;

(2) to condemn the lack of concern over this issue shown by the Scottish Office Minister; and

(3) to support the call made by Vice-Convener Wallie Leask to the Secretary of State for Scotland, Mr Michael Forsyth, to have a public and honest debate on this issue.