Music Lessons Under Threat

In the summer the Government announced that it would fully fund the pay rise for all classroom teachers, yet it has since emerged that this will not apply to teachers employed directly by councils.  The majority of these  centrally employed teachers (CETs), provide music tuition.

The Local Government Association, which represents 370 councils in England and Wales, is seeking assurances from the Government that it will meet the cost of the additional 1 to 2.5 per cent salary rise for CETs – estimated to be £5.5 million – which councils will not have budgeted for. The LGA says this burden cannot fall on local authorities.

If councils, which face a £3.9 billion funding gap in 2019/20, are left to pick up the cost then some would have little choice but to reduce CET services such as music tuition.

There are currently 4,900 CETs in England who either provide direct teaching to children and young people or play key roles in supporting education professionals, at least half of which are in music services.

While the majority of these posts are within music teaching, other roles affected include support for children from black and minority ethnic backgrounds and traveller heritages; supporting disabled children; teaching outside schools such as within secure units; and supporting schools in early years provision.

Suffolk Liberal Democrat County Councillor  Penny Otton said:

“The UK has a proud history of musical excellence and many of the most well-known artists in the world over time would have benefited from music lessons. For many young people, it is a vital part of their education and future life opportunities, but this could be at risk unless the Government commits to fully funding the pay increase for all classroom teachers, including music teachers.

“While we were pleased that the Government announced that it would fully fund a pay increase for teachers in the summer, it needs to extend this to fund the pay rise for centrally employed teachers, such as those providing music tuition. We will fight hard for Suffolk to get a fair deal so our music teachers are fully funded.

“Local government is already under massive financial pressure with many services overstretched. If this additional cost is left for councils to pick up then they will be put in the very difficult position of being forced to reduce certain types of education provision including music teaching.

Suffolk County Council: Bosmere By-Election

Due to the untimely death of Cllr Ann Whybrow, a by-election will be held on Thursday, October 25th for Suffolk’s Bosmere division.

Our candidate is Steve Phillips.

Steve will aim to carry on the active and successful record of representing you, set by Ros Scott and Julia Truelove, your previous Liberal Democrat Councillors.  We  hope to meet your needs again with a hard working Liberal Democrat.

Steve’s Background

Steve says:  ‘I am looking forward to serving you in Bosmere as a County Councillor and hope you will elect me on the 25th.

I have been a Town Councillor for 20 years and have served as Town Mayor/Chairman of Needham Market Town Council on two occasions. During that time, I have regularly fought for issues within the Town, for example improved facilities for Crowley Park playing field, so I have a good track record.

I have listened and responded to individuals’ concerns and helped promote local community projects.  I have helped to run the young persons’ football club in Ringshall and got to know many of the residents and their children.

I take a keen interest in our surrounding villages and getting things done. I have attended Parish meetings, visited local community shops and attended coffee mornings, as a member of the public.  If you choose to elect me I will regularly attend Parish Council meetings as your County Councillor to ensure I keep closely in touch with your needs and views.

I will also keep in touch via email and social media, our www site and by producing regular “Focus” leaflets

As a family man with 5 children, now grown up, I have maintained a continuing interest in education and this will  be of special interest if elected as your County Councillor.

Above all, I have tried to treat people fairly and hope to continue the trust placed in me.’

Current Issues

Every year the County Council is cutting back our vital services, shifting the burden onto voluntary groups and increasing charges without weighing up the impact on vulnerable people.  They are responding to cuts in government funding but for several years have made “savings” sufficient to add to the reserves, which in total are over £150 million.

Health and adult social care is in crisis and many elderly people in the UK are not receiving the care and support they need. This has a severe impact on the NHS.
We believe cuts to health and adult social care, public transport, libraries, affordable housing, schools, road maintenance and the necessary infrastructure to support housing growth have gone too far.

Steve says  “If these are things that you feel as passionate about as I do, please give me your vote so that I can challenge this Tory Council on your behalf. Your vote is important not only to you but to shape your Town or Village –  so please vote for me on Thursday 25th October and together we can make a difference.”

Suffolk Conservatives: Modified Support only for Green/LibDem Cycling Plans

The Conservative administration at Suffolk County Council  agreed yesterday to a motion proposed by the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent Group to develop a strategic costed cycling plan.  The motion, seconded by LibDem leader Caroline Page, and proposed by Green Robert Lindsay  first asked for a strategic, costed five-year cycling plan to be drawn up for Suffolk.  It secondly asked  for a commitment of 5% of the annual Integrated Transport Block (the equivalent of £160,000) to be spent on cycling infrastructure.
Both motions were vital: without a  commitment of funding, it will be impossible to implement a cycling plan. However, the Conservatives refused to commit any funding whatsoever  to cycling infrastructure – thus managing to have their fiscal cake and eat it.
In the past SCC used to have a cycling team and  a costed cycling infrastructure plan – which was allocated funds from the Transport budget every year.
Back in 1995 the then Country Councillors voted to fully support plans to develop the Sustrans’  National Cycle Network routes in Suffolk and steady progress was made with this for several years.
A cycling budgets also benefits other modes of travel:
1) Most off-carriageway cycle infrastructure is designed to be of equal benefit to pedestrians e.g. shared use cycle paths; Toucan crossing; bridges  – therefore ‘Safe Routes to School’ (for both cycling and walking).
2) More cycle commuters means less traffic on roads, leading to better journey times for those who really need their vehicles.
Since 2011, Suffolk and Ipswich were eligible for six sustainable travel grants from the Department for Transport, yet did not win a single one of these. By failing to commit a minimal amount of funding, it is likely that any future bids for funding will likewise fail.