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Finance Secretary quizzed on schools’ funding

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By Fiona Reid

SCOTTISH Finance secretary John Swinney has come under fire for failing to give answers about the delay to the Dumfries and Dalbeattie new school projects.

The Dumfries Learning Town project and Dalbeattie Learning Campus have been delayed indefinitely because of a funding dispute between the Scottish Government and the EC.
Dumfriesshire MSP Elaine Murray has criticised Mr Swinney for a ‘severe lack of answers’ to concerns over a delay in funding for the two projects.
She used portfolio question time to seek reassurances from the Finance Secretary that promised funding for the ‘Schools for the Future’ programme will be delivered on time.
Failing that, she asked for the council to be compensated for the potential £200,000 per month additional costs incurred by the Scottish Government’s delays.
Most of the funding for the proposed new schools will come from Dumfries and Galloway Council, and this funding has already been agreed by councillors.
However, around £24m was due to be met by the Scottish Government’s potentially flawed Scottish Futures Trust ‘Hub’ programme.
The first stage of the programme, the Dalbeattie Learning Campus, is due to achieve financial close later this month September, and the construction of the Dumfries Learning Town is scheduled to begin in June next year.
Dr Murray said: “Sadly, local people won’t be feeling reassured by Mr Swinney’s response to this extremely serious situation.
“A severe lack of answers to concerns in potential delays of funding for the programme just creates further uncertainties.
“What makes matters worse is that the Finance Secretary simply dodged my repeated attempts to determine if the Scottish Government intends to compensate Dumfries and Galloway Council for any additional costs incurred.”


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