‘Whoever put proposals forward should be shot’, councillor tells crowd at cuts meeting
Public show of strength as hundreds attend meetings to voice cuts concern
A COUNCILLOR said proposed budgets cuts affecting children with special educational needs are ‘ madness’ and ‘ whoever put them forward should be shot’.
Argyll and Bute councillor Neil MacIntyre told the 300-strong crowd at a meeting in the Corran Halls, Oban, last Wednesday that he could guarantee the proposed cuts to 70 additional support needs (ASN) posts would not go ahead.
Mr MacIntyre repeatedly said: ‘The cuts to this service will not happen. Who is going to vote for them? This will be withdrawn. It shouldn’t have been out for consultation in the first place. It is madness.’
Mr MacIntyre said he was not on the budget board at the council, which put forward the proposals in the first place, adding that the move was ‘madness; whoever put it in should be shot’.
Parents voiced their concerns, asking why the proposed service cut was in the consultation in the first place.
Speech therapist Julia Hannah and former education officer Wilma Lawn both gave presentations to support the parents; Ms Hannah believed that the strides that many children have made in using language was because of the extensive work by ASN staff in schools. Ms Lawn questioned the legality of removing 70 staff.
Other councillors at the meeting were also questioned about the proposed cuts.
As Oban, Lorn and the Isles area leader Roddy McCuish rose to his feet to speak, one parent shouted from the audience: ‘Liar’.
When asked directly why the ASN cuts were included in the consultation, he said: ‘I thought it was the right thing to do.’ Mr McCuish asked the area committee to work with him to find a way through the budget proposals.
The often-heated debate between councillors focused on the issue of who made the decision to put forward the proposals in the first place.
Dunoon councillor Michael Breslin, the former director of Argyll College, said getting information about the budget proposal project board was difficult. He said: ‘North Korea is the analogy that I think about Argyll and Bute Council.’
After the meeting, a spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Parents against Council Cuts (AB-PACC) said: ‘The community of Oban turned out in vast numbers at a public meeting to raise awareness and to voice their concerns to Argyll and Bute councillors over the proposed 45 per cent cuts to the additional support needs budget. The Corran Halls were packed on Wednesday night. Our campaign will continue. We will fight for every child in Argyll and Bute.’
We’ll fight for every child in Argyll and Bute”