Farron invites Cumbrian MP's and Council Leader to meeting to discuss school funding threat
South Lakes MP Tim Farron has today invited Cumbria County Council Leader Eddie Martin and the 5 other Cumbrian MP's to come together to discuss schools funding.
The new rules, implemented by the Department for Education allow the council to make a local decision about the allocation of a lump sum of cash of between £0 and £200,000 to all schools. This lump sum has to be same for all schools, secondary or primary. It is clear that the County Council has the power to decide whether to support rural schools or to allow them to close.
The council is required by law to lodge its funding formula with the Department for Education by 31st October. The council has launched a consultation process. In comparison, neighbouring Liberal Democrat controlled Northumberland started its consultation process back in July.
In the last fortnight Tim has written to ministers to invite them to Cumbria to meet local schools and to discuss the impact of these plans. Tim has also written to Michael Gove and spoken directly to David Laws to seek their assistance and they are now aware of Cumbria's plight.
Tim's specific requests to government are:
1) That the County Council should be able to apply an additional factor to reflect the cost of operating in sparse areas where a cash sum could be allocated to reflect these costs. The allocations would be based on objective criteria, reflecting the unique circumstances of each affected school and would be recommended to the local authority through the Schools Forum. This is consistent with the methodology for determining the "split site" factor.
2) That they allow for three, rather than two years of protection through the minimum funding guarantee to enable measured planning, consultation and preparation to take place in implementing the new arrangements.
Commenting today Tim said, "As soon as I started this campaign I contacted Eddie Martin and asked him to put aside party politics for the good of Cumbria's schools, pupils and their families. If he wants to try and gain party political advantage from this; well that is up to him. What I will do is what I have been doing throughout all of this - putting our schools first and working to defend them. No politics, no games - just working to defend our schools.
"I also want to pay tribute to the staff, teachers and head teachers for their help and support throughout the campaign so far. Their comments and advice has been invaluable. I think the funding crisis is something we can fix if we all work together. We have won community campaigns before, like the new chemotherapy unit for Kendal. I know if we all work together we can win this one too!"