Peter Peacock urges council to secure future of music school swiftly

25 February 2011

Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Peter Peacock has urged the Council to secure the future of Plockton Music School swiftly otherwise it risks losing funding from the Scottish Government.

He asked Education Secretary Mike Russell written Parliamentary questions about funding for the school, which was earmarked for closure as part of Highland Council’s recent budget cuts.

The centre survived but still faces an uncertain future.

Mr Russell indicated in his replies that were the Council to withdraw its own funding then the Scottish Government‘s annual grant would also be withdrawn and this money could not be spent on other services by the council.

Mr Peacock said: "The clear implication is that if Highland Council ends the funding to the school, it will lose the grant from the Scottish Government.

"That would not only leave the council without the school, with all the benefits that arise from that for the local economy, the benefits to the reputation of the Highlands and the benefits to the individual pupils and to Scottish traditional music but it would also mean that the Council would be financially worse off ."

He added: "The answers confirm what I have been saying to the Council about the financial risks they were running when they embarked on this course of action.

"However, I welcome the positive meeting that was held earlier in the week between the Council and the school and I hope the answers to the questions will confirm to the Council that they need to resolve the matter quickly.

Parliamentary Questions

24 February 2011
Index Heading: Education and Lifelong Learning

Peter Peacock : To ask the Scottish Executive what its position is regarding a local authority no longer providing funding for a national centre of excellence in education for which its annual funding had been specifically increased.(S3W-39439)

Mr Michael Russell :

The previously ring-fenced funding for national centres of excellence was rolled-up into the local government finance settlement with effect from 1 April 2008. Although the provision for national centres of excellence is still recognised in the needs-based distribution formula there is no separately identifiable funding. If a council were to withdraw this service, this could impact on the future funding allocations for that council. The Scottish Government view is that it would not be appropriate for a council to benefit at the expense of other councils, within the distribution formula, in relation to a facility or service that it no longer provides.

Peter Peacock : To ask the Scottish Executive what understanding was reached with or through COSLA regarding increased funding for particular local authorities for national centres of excellence in education being intended for the continuation of such centres.

Mr Michael Russell :

Under the terms of the Concordat it was agreed by Scottish Ministers and the COSLA Presidential Team that, as part of the funding package for 2008-11, the Scottish Government would substantially reduce the number of separate funding streams, thereby allowing local authorities much more freedom in how they allocate their total resources. The funding for national centres of excellence in education was one of the many ring-fenced funding streams rolled up with effect from 1 April 2008. Although the funding for centres of excellence is no longer separately identifiable, the provision is still recognised in the needs based distribution formula

 

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