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Flintshire schools hit by council overspend

FLINTSHIRE County Council is ‘making schoolchildren pay’ for an overspend in its budget, according to the Labour opposition.

In September the authority revealed a projected overspend of £2m, but earlier this month councillors were told it had been reduced to £574,0000.

Among the measures used to reduce the deficit was the decision to take money out of the education budget.

The move has seen £191,000 earmarked for libraries, furniture and ICT withdrawn from the budget and another £120,000, which was to be invested into playgroups, removed.

Connah’s Quay councillor Aaron Shotton, the county’s Labour leader, has criticised the decision.

He said: “This funding cut is as a result of the Tory and so-called independent councillors’ failure to manage the budget this year.

“It is unacceptable that instead of addressing wasteful spend across council departments, they have decided to make our schoolchildren pay.

“Unbelievably they have taken this decision without consulting with schools, governing bodies or parents.”

A spokesman for the council said the money withdrawn from areas of the education budget was ‘unspent and uncommitted’.

He said: “The decision not to commit and spend up to the maximum levels allowed, in order to reduce the overall revenue budget overspend, is for this financial year only. These are not permanent budget reductions.”

The spokesman said that in previous years any money left over from funding for nursery places for three-year-olds had been reinvested into playgroups – but this year the council had decided not to do that.

He added: “It has always been stated that this additional discretionary funding may not be available in the future and due to current budgetary pressures this sustainability grant will not be available in 2010/2011.”