For Immediate Use 10th February 2011
Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has today welcomed a delay in slashing classroom assistants, but warned the Highland Council that their delay in finding alternative funding solutions would cost jobs.
Administration councillors have voted to delay the deeply unpopular cut until after the 2012 local elections in the Highlands. The move had attracted widespread condemnation and anger from politicians and parents alike.
The SNP had previously suggested that saving could be made in electricity budgets for schools, council offices and it systems, however this has been dismissed by the administration.
Commenting, Mr Gibson said:-
“I share in the classroom assistants’ relief that – for now – their jobs are secure. They play a key role in our children’s education, and Highland parents are united in opposition to their removal.
“The Council’s delay in finding a funding solution following this u-turn will cost jobs. The SNP has put forward a number of suggestions as to how the council might look to save money and keep our education system intact, but the administration councillors have brushed SNP proposals aside and delayed savings till June.
“There is undoubtedly a party-political motivation behind this delay, which extends beyond the local government election next year. Administration councillors are swinging from one extreme to the other on this issue, as opposed to looking for sensible solutions to funding shortfalls.
“Education is obviously not a priority for the Lib Dems and Labour in the Highlands. The SNP want to protect jobs in education so that our children get the most out of their schooling.”