Letter - Where are plans B & C?

ODDLY enough, I had already seen the letter you published from Coun Rowley (Difficult decisions - December 21) as she had eventually sent me a copy to act as a reply to promptings from my more attentive local councillor.

I pointed out to her then that no member of my family had asked me to write to you or anyone on their behalf. Despite this, she has allowed such a statement to be published as a cheap jibe.

Is this the way our teachers are regarded? Should her letters not be concentrating on the issues? I have known the music service for over 30 years and am shocked at her council’s attitude.

Trying to obtain information from her department is rather like drawing teeth, and I find more on the internet.

Concepts of transparency and accountability seem to be unwelcome or perhaps unknown, and they may be especially needed at this time in that department. They seem to prefer us to wait for Coun Rowley herself to “come to some decision” rather than debate or consult ahead of our council’s proper deliberation.

She has a “Plan A” for the Music Hub, but like George Osborne seems to have no Plan B or even C.

The problem is that Plan A is unjust and may well be illegal in its unilateral removal of qualified teacher status and imposed pay reductions in the order of 30 per cent, and may then be contrary to articles 12, 28, 29 and 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child to which the council subscribes.

It will also do serious harm to the music department which has been built up over many years by committed staff. Her talk of a 50 per cent reduction in grant is difficult to pin down- next year, according to information extracted from her department, it will amount to about 14 per cent: some better figures would be a help, and on the number of class teachers affected, which doesn’t seem to be clear either.

Coun Rowley would have us believe that it is an either/or choice between services to the vulnerable and the education and culture of our children.

I have done her council’s online budgeting exercise and seemed to be able to balance the books without any of that. I’m sure more transparency would reveal some old shibboleths in both capital and revenue expenditure: the futile Northern Gateway road scheme that we and her constituents now suffer in these parts would have covered the Arts Council music grant for about eight years. What else?

Nick Shields

Blenheim Road

St Johns