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Extra UK Government funding expected for council

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
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Extra UK Government funding expected for council

DUMFRIES and Galloway Council chiefs are hopeful of bonus funding being announced tomorrow (Wednesday) in the Chancellor’s spring budget.

It is expected that Jeremy Hunt will allocate additional UK Government cash to be split among councils across the UK.

It is unclear how much investment this region will receive, but a significant sum will most likely be ploughed into education for the year ahead.

The Conservatives currently run the council administration, however the Tory Group failed to get enough votes for their budget proposals and the opposition SNP budget was passed instead.

Some key decisions in the SNP budget includes spending £1.827m to alleviate the cost of living crisis for struggling residents, as well as a council tax freeze.

However, Annandale North Councillor Stephen Thompson, leader of the SNP Group, said that he expected more funding from the UK Government, and said that this will then allow for education to be looked at more closely, and some cost savings to be revisited.

The Chancellor is also under increasing pressure to do so after councils’ collective COSLA (the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) has took the “unprecedented” step of writing a joint letter with other UK local government associations, urging him to provide additional funding in Wednesday’s UK budget.

Meanwhile, the Dumfries and Galloway Labour Group shouted loudly about investing more in education at last week’s regional budget meeting and demanded that 14 threatened teacher posts are protected.

With more funding expected, Annandale North Councillor Carolyne Wilson, deputy leader of the Labour Group, wants to see £500,000 allocated towards keeping 14 teaching staff in post.

Her Labour colleague Linda Dorward, who represents Lochar, said: “Regarding administration ‘bragging rights’, binary politics appear to be the focus of the Conservative and SNP groups, whilst the Labour group will always prioritise their focus on what is best for the people and region of Dumfries and Galloway.

“We have listened to parents and teachers and we share their ambitions for our children and young people to reach their full potential. Keeping teachers in post, especially when our education services are facing additional challenges, will help them achieve this”.

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