This Week’s News at County Hall from Leics Lib Dems…
It's been slightly more eventful at County Hall this week:
- School Places Crisis!
It was revealed that we're very short on Primary School places.
Blaby doesn't have enough capacity for next year's wave of school starters and that doesn't even take into account for the fact that even if a district has places, if the children live on the other side of the borough then transport will be a nightmare. A huge amount of work needs to be done on this, fast!
Primary School Places in Leicestershire
Despite this, the County Council budget for increasing school sizes is decreasing and the Department for Education favours Gove's "free school" projects. Simon has found that there is a reserve option though - a County Council can hold an auction to attract free school and academy providers to set up in a needed area. If there are no suitable bids from academies or free schools then the Local Authority are allowed to set up a school themselves, subject to Gove's agreement.
There's no time to waste though.
Leicestershire needs to take some leadership on this issue and start these auctions as soon as possible!
- Lib Dems show scepticism over City of Culture spending
Although we support Leicestershire's City of Culture bid, we weren't happy to find that the Council planning to spend up to £2 million on it, not when frontline services are set to suffer. It's just not the priority for these difficult times.
We believe that Leicestershire already has a great number of attractions, from historical sites such as Bosworth Field, to various music, food and community arts festivals, all of which that can be promoted under the "City of Culture" brand. We find it hard to believe that it requires an extra £2 million to make the best out of them.
- Tory deal to sell care homes falls to pieces
This week it was revealed that the buyer for Leicestershire's care homes hadn't been able to pay before the deadline. Despite being given a year to pay, they'd only managed to pay a total of £0.7 million out of £3.15 million - less than a quarter of the total sum. They're now to be given a 6 month extension, giving them a bit longer to raise the money using bank loans.
Sadly, this news didn't come as a surprise to us.
We warned them last year that the County Council's own investigations had revealed that he'd be unable to raise the money to pay the bill. They failed to listen and now the Council has been left in this difficult position. We'll be keeping a close eye out to ensure the Council secures the best deal possible for its treasury and for the residents of these homes.