All posts by pennyo

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.

Bus passes no longer available for use on community transport in Mid-Suffolk and Ipswich

Further to our report on Suffolk’s new bus franchises Thedwastre  South Councillor Penny Otton reiterates: “It  now turns out Suffolk county council Tory council has awarded a contract for the Mid Suffolk  area where you cannot use your bus pass. You can pay or swap your bus pass for a voucher worth £100. How  many trips will that cover?? Is this fair?? I don’t think so!”

BSEVC covers not only MidSuffolk, but also Ipswich. Fortunately  for the rest of Suffolk these are the only two areas where this iniquitous system is currently running -though the franchises are able to change their operating terms at any time.

“We’ve been told that BSEVC is able to refuse bus passes because they are operating 9 seater transport rather than the previous 22 seaters.  This allows them to operate under different rules as community car schemes and Dial-A-Ride rather than  Demand Responsive Transport.  SCC officers have told us this is because the 22 seater buses  are  ‘not economically viable’ ; that BSEVC do hold 22 seaters, and that they could bring them back into use ‘should demand increase,” explains LibDem spokesperson for Transport, Caroline Page .

But as  the voucher system allows previous bus pass holders living in remote areas to make no more than 11 return journeys a year,  it is hard to see how this promise is anything other than window dressing!”

 

Liberal Democrats call on MPs to reject Right to Buy for Housing Associations

Lib Dems are opposing the government decision to allow the tenants of Housing Associations the right to buy the homes they rent so the Mid Suffolk group are putting the following to the council

Motion to Mid Suffolk district council  “This council supports the housing charity “Shelter” in its campaign to persuade the Tory government that its plan to introduce the right to buy to housing association properties is ill conceived. The council therefore resolves to lobby all Suffolk MPs and government ministers to reject this policy as the council is concerned at the loss of such social housing for future generations”

This council has one of its strategic priorities, housing, to ensure there is enough good quality, environmentally efficient homes, with appropriate tenures in the right location.

To have a policy of extending the right to buy to housing associations will not improve the housing crisis it will exacerbate it.

Even the National Housing Federation chief executive has publicly stated “this will have a serious and long lasting consequence for future generations. It will not solve the housing crisis :  it will make it worse” Continue reading Liberal Democrats call on MPs to reject Right to Buy for Housing Associations