|LibDem Council Leader Anne Robertson and|
"opposition" SNP leader Joanna Strathdee
discussing the days business in the Council
Chamber as the meeting starts.
Aberdeenshire SNP, Liberal Democrat and Conservative councillors have again behaved undemocratically and dictatorially after voting to prevent debate on a proposal by my group on the Council not to make planned cuts in the budget for primary school classroom assistants and visiting specialist teachers.
The stifling of debate prompted the entire Democratic Independent Group of councillors to walk out of today's Aberdeenshire Council full council meeting.
Rather than debate the DIGs fully costed proposals, the ConDemNats seemed to be determined to squash even discussing alternatives to cutting school assistants. Proposals to make cuts deeper were accepted with no problem. Discussion on avoiding cuts was not allowed, even through it could easily have been done.
The Council was debating setting its revenue budget for 2011/12. Cuts totalling £27 million had been voted through at the full council meeting on 25 November 2010. The Council's Liberal Democrat, Conservative and SNP councillors moved motions to increase the cut to the primary classroom assistant budget.
When Cllr Martin Ford, on behalf of the Democratic Independent Group, rose to propose that the classroom assistant budget be spared from cuts, it was ruled he could not make the proposal unless two-thirds of councillors agreed to suspend Standing Orders.
|Democratic Independent Group councillors Mark Cullen, Martin Ford,|
Paul Johnston, Debra Storr and Sam Coull were disgusted that the Council
refused to even listen to their proposals to reduce damaging education cuts
Cllr Ford moved the suspension of Standing Orders, appealing to the council to allow an open and democratic debate on this important issue. Only six councillors voted to allow the issue to even be discussed.
At that point the Democratic Independent Group expressed their disgust at the councils undemocratic behaviour and walked out.
The Democratic Independent Group wanted to substitute a cut in the unadopted roads budget, which is little used, for the cut in the primary school budgets.
Commenting Cllr Martin Ford said “I am appalled at the council's refusal to allow open debate. Apparently it is perfectly acceptable to propose further cuts in classroom assistants – but seeking to stop the cuts is now allowed. This is completely one-sided. These school staff cuts could and should have been stopped today.
Cllr Paul Johnston said “Aberdeenshire Council sank to a new low today. They made a cut in primary education that they did not need to make. They had the money and will now not reverse their decision.”
Cllr Sam Coull added “Teaching and education in the primary schools just got a whole lot more difficult today.”