Guides funding fight with Leeds City Council

Guides took their fight against funding cuts back to the council chamber today when a delegation lobbied for a change of heart over who pays for community use of schools.

Decisions on how out-of-school activities are paid for have largely been made by schools governing bodies since grants began to flow direct from central government rather than the local authority.

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Leeds City Council had continued to make a contributuion towards the costs to help protect services which the authority recognised as important to local communities.

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However, faced with a dramatic reduction in its own funding, the authority's executive board voted to scrap the subsidy in September, leaving schools to decide out-of-hours policies themselves.

The decision prompted the Guiding movement to send a delegation to Leeds City Council in November to press for a rethink.

Guide leader Susan Greaves told councillors the decision would put the survival of many Guide groups in jeopardy.

She claimed, if groups were asked to pay, many would simply collapse as parents would struggle to meet the costs.

She also criticised the council for a lack of consultation.

Her plea won a stay of execution until today, when councillors were due to consider a new report on the matter.

But, although the Guides sent another delegation, there was little comfort in a report to the board, with officers recommending

councillors stick to their guns.

Members were told there should be no presumption that the withdrawal of the council subsidy would lead to all schools charging for community use as funding overall has increased.

The report also pointed out user groups were informed of the proposed withdrawal of the council's subsidy several months ago.

The formal recommendation was that the executive board endorsed the original decision to withdraw the subsidy for community use.