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Traditional outcome

Pauline McLean | 11:29 UK time, Tuesday, 15 March 2011

So as one observant correspondent predicted on this blog just a few weeks ago, the closure of Plockton School of Traditional Music has been averted in the nick of time.

Education minister Michael Russell galloped in this morning with a cheque for £200,000 for 2012/2013 and 2014/2015 when the facility had expected to close.

The deal is based on a partnership with the West Highland College UHI (University of the Highlands and Islands) and on a number of cost-cutting measures which would save the centre up to £50,000 a year.

If the college agrees, and accepts the grant, it would then run a national certificate in traditional music.

And what about Highland Council, whose withdrawal of their £300,000 annual funding, caused all the hoohah in the first place?

They must still approve the new agreement, and may still have their share of responsibility for the centre.

Highland Council leader Michael Foxley says the whole situation has been positive - showing the extent of the support for the centre, including an internet petition, and a noisy campaign by musicians and music lovers across the world.

Many of those supporters will now be asked to put their money where their mouths are, to support the continuing upkeep of the centre.

Speaking on Good Morning Scotland today, Mr Foxley said the campaign had thrown up lots of previously overlooked options for funding, including weekend staffing and travel costs. A silver lining amongst a lot of black clouds.

And while a cause for celebration in the traditional music world, you can't help wondering whether the wider and more aggressive cuts to music and arts education across the country will be as much of a cause celebre.

Or indeed as simple to resolve.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Highland Council leader Michael Foxley says the whole situation has been positive - showing the extent of the support for the centre, including an internet petition, and a noisy campaign by musicians and music lovers across the world...Speaking on Good Morning Scotland today, Mr Foxley said the campaign had thrown up lots of previously overlooked options for funding, including weekend staffing and travel costs.

    Did Highland Council Lib-Dem Leader admit that it was his Lib-Dem/Independent Group/Labour administration in Highland Council that took the decision to close the School of Excellence in the first place despite opposition from the SNP and non-aligned independent members?

    Did he also make clear that in a stunning display of incompetence by the Highland Council administration closing the School of Excellence in Plockton would have resulted in no savings at all for Highland Council?

    In an answer to a written question from Peter Peacock Mike Russell replied that if Highland Council closed the school the Government would remove the funding from Highland Council.

    S3W-39439 - Peter Peacock (Highlands and Islands) (Lab) (Date Lodged Monday, February 07, 2011): To ask the Scottish Executive what its position is regarding a local authority no longer providing funding for a national centre of excellence in education for which its annual funding had been specifically increased.

    Answered by Michael Russell (Thursday, February 24, 2011): The previously ring-fenced funding for national centres of excellence was rolled-up into the local government finance settlement with effect from 1 April 2008. Although the provision for national centres of excellence is still recognised in the needs-based distribution formula there is no separately identifiable funding. If a local authority were to withdraw this service, this could impact on the future funding allocations for that local authority. The Scottish Government''s view is that it would not be appropriate for a local authority to benefit at the expense of other local authorities, within the distribution formula, in relation to a facility or service that it no longer provides.


    I suspect the responsibility for funding the School of Excellence has been withdrawn from Highland Council and is now being administered directly by the Government. Though Highland Council will continue to run the school the Lib-Dem/Independent/Labour administration have been put firmly in their place by Mike Russell.

 

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