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FUTURE OF LEARNING TOWN PLANS IN DOUBT AS DEPUTY FIRST MINISTER FAILS TO DELIVER ON SCHOOL FUNDING PLANS

The future of phase 2 of the Dumfries Learning Town project has been left in doubt after Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education John Swinney failed to deliver on a promised funding announcement for school buildings.

In September 2017, South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth asked John Swinney what plans the Scottish Government had to provide funding for their schools for the future programme. In response John Swinney said “options are being developed and we will announce details later this year”.

However, no announcement on funding has been forthcoming and when Colin Smyth challenged John Swinney on the issue again in Parliament today (1 Feb 2018) , the Deputy First Minister confirmed that a funding announcement had been kicked into the long grass and now wouldn’t happen until “later this year”.

Colin Smyth also asked the Deputy First Minister to meet with himself and representatives of Dumfries and Galloway Council to discuss the Dumfries Learning Town project but John Swinney failed to reply to the request, prompting fears that no funding would be forthcoming.

Commenting after the exchange in Parliament , Colin Smyth MSP said , “John Swinney has let down the parents, teachers and pupils of Dumfries by failing to announce more funding for school buildings by the end of last year as he promised in Parliament. His dithering really does leave phase 2 of the Dumfries Learning Town project in doubt and the longer it takes to secure funding the more expensive that project becomes”.

“The timetable for the completion of phase 2 is now pretty much in the bin and the fact he didn’t even reply to my request to meet with myself and the council to discuss the project, does raise concerns that the Government won’t come forward with any funding at all. That will mean the council having to pick up the full costs which would mean all of phase 2 not being delivered at once as promised. This would be an utter betrayal and mean the council breaking their clear pledge to the people of Dumfries.”

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