East Lothian Council’s education cabinet spokesperson Councillor Shamin Akhtar has hit back at SNP councillors following their hypocritical attempt to blame decisions made by the Labour-led administration for concerns expressed in an independent audit report.
In fact, most of the evidence contained in the Assurance and Improvement Plan Update which went to the full council last month, was drawn from the period before Labour was returned to office in May last year.
Therefore, the reality is that the concerns expressed in the report actually reflect decisions made under the previous SNP administration, including their failure to appoint a head of education for East Lothian over a considerable period of time.
This failure to act left the education service in East Lothian in an unacceptable position. Within months of coming into office the current administration prioritised filling this role.
Cllr Shamin Akhtar said:
“Firstly, it is important to recognise that most of the evidence this report is based on comes from the period when Cllr Peter MacKenzie and the SNP were still in power, so their criticisms are sheer hypocrisy. That said, we are absolutely focused on addressing the issues the report outlines and Education Scotland will see this at their next visit. We will be working very closely with them to make sure that every child gets the very best out of their school experience.
“Compare this to the SNP’s record on education in the previous five years. Their mishandling of the shared services agenda and failure to appoint a head of education in the county led to many of the issues we now face. If the SNP had spent more time focusing on the core issue of attainment and less on pet projects such as Gaelic and ancient Scottish history, then they might have left our education in a stronger position.
“The reality is that their shared services plan would have seen £600,000 taken out of the county’s education budget. The SNP will not say what they would have cut out to achieve this. As with so many other aspects of their record, including their dire management of the county’s finances, SNP councillors have refused to face up to their failure on education and children’s services.”