SNP Councillor Angus MacDonald has condemned the Labour / Tory administration on Falkirk Council following their decision to reduce the number of Cultural Co-ordinators from 2 part-time officers working four days per week each to one full-time officer working 5 days per week, effectively sacking one of the part-time officers, from the end of December this year.
Falkirk Council’s SNP Group moved the following amendment:
“Council recognises the importance of local culture and heritage to the young people of Falkirk district. Council therefore rejects the proposed cuts in the number of Cultural Co-ordinators posts and overall hours worked in this field. Instead of cutting this service council agrees to maintain the current staffing level, hours worked and funding commitments currently in place. Council also agrees to open discussions with the relevant staff members and their representatives to prepare a long term strategy for their employment with Falkirk Council, including becoming full time permanent employees in the fullness of time.”
The amendment was defeated 17 votes to 14.
Cllr MacDonald commented:
“It is extremely disappointing that the ruling Labour / Tory administration on Falkirk Council have not shown more commitment to Cultural provision in Falkirk’s Schools.
“The Labour / Tory administration have totally mis-handled the whole situation, resulting in a reduction in the number of Cultural Co-ordinators in Falkirk Council.
“By the time the final report was presented to the Education Committee, and subsequently to Full Council, the recommendation had changed to keep the two part-time cultural co-ordinators until the end of December 08 (i.e. until the Mod is over) and then create one permanent full-time Cultural Co-ordinator, paying off the second Cultural Co-ordinator.
“This is a backward step, at a time when we should be encouraging young people to appreciate the arts. This blinkered attitude would lead any fair-minded person to class the Labour / Tory administration in Falkirk as, at best, a ‘bunch of philistines’, at worst, ‘cultural Neanderthals.’
Cllr MacDonald continued: “The results by the Cultural Co-ordinators speak for themselves. They are self-financing, having drawn in nearly £1 million of funding over 4 years (a part of the report which was spuriously pulled from the final report presented to Committee) and they have raised cultural awareness amongst 37,231 pupils, not to mention 815 teachers.
“Any move to reduce the number of cultural co-ordinators is absolute madness. I have raised the issue of Cultural Co-ordinators with the Minister for Culture, Linda Fabiani MSP and have highlighted to her the excellent work that they have done in Falkirk district. The Minister has pointed out to me that the Government have made significant funds available to continue the scheme until 2010, and also that the Youth Music Initiative funding is to continue, therefore there is no rhyme nor reason for Falkirk Council to cut back on the positions at this stage, or indeed at any point in the future. The Labour / Tory administration have failed to admit that they have got this one wrong, and retain the two posts. It also now transpires that the funding which the Scottish Arts Council provided for the part-time Cultural Co-ordinators could be lost because funding from the SAC does not cover the full-time position.”