The former Labour Group leader on Dumfries and Galloway Council, Councillor Ronnie Nicholson, has described a ruling not to allow councillors to propose any amendments to the Labour/SNP administration’s budget at a full meeting of the council last week as “a day of shame”.
Councillor Nicholson, who resigned from the Labour Party over teaching post cuts in the budget, had sought to propose an amendment to remove proposed cuts to teachers and fund it by not going ahead with a new Community Initiative Enabled Fund and use a small amount of council reserves. However, he claims his motion was ruled out of order.
He said: “In my two decades as a councillor I have never been so ashamed of the council than I was during that budget debate. If councillors voted down my proposal to save teachers posts that would have been their democratic right.
“But to dictate that councillors weren’t allowed to discuss and vote on the issue was unprecedented and an affront to democracy. More importantly the council sent a signal to teachers that their jobs weren’t worth debating and to pupils that their education isn’t important.The budget really was a day of shame for the council.”.
In the meantime, the teaching union EIS has launched an online petition to “fight Dumfries and Galloway Council’s plans to drastically reduce education spending in this year’s budget.”
The council issued a statement saying:“This year’s budget has been set in very difficult circumstances. Since austerity was introduced in 2010/11, Dumfries and Galloway Council has had to find savings totalling £96 million, equating to 27 per cent of annual spend. This year, we have had to make a further £10.2 million spending cut.”