RCT Labour Cabinet this afternoon rubber stamped their proposals for the first round of their savage cuts to services in RCT.
First on the list - cuts to nursery education provision. Currently, and for as long as most of us can remember, children in RCT have started full time education at the age of 3. The Labour Council have now decided that will change and they will not start full time until the term after their fourth birthday.
This is a slight change from the proposal as originally outlined which said they would start the September after their fourth birthday. One other concession is that the proposals will come into effect in September rather than April.
RCT Welsh Liberal Democrat Campaign Manager Karen Roberts says
"This enables the Cabinet to claim they have 'listened' to the public and acted accordingly. This is absolute nonsense, they have done nothing of the sort and they cannot really believe the public are that gullible.
"We have said all along that we expected this to be the case. It would have been next to impossible for the Council to get everything in place to make this happen from April. There are far too many unanswered questions and there are far reaching implications for schools and staff as well as pupils and parents.
"Governors have not been approached at all and yet they will need to make decisions on staffing and on whether they are in any position to provide wrap around care.
"Plans need to be made public very quickly as to how this will work in practice. Do they intend to run two sessions for nursery children, thus employing fewer staff but still on a full time basis? What about the staff themselves, where will they find sufficient teachers and assistant who only want or need to work part time?
"People were left confused as to what will happen to children who start full time at age three over the next few months come September. Will they drop back to part time then until the term after their fourth birthday?
"The Cabinet Member for Education told a parent as she was leaving the meeting that children already in school full time would not be taken out. She was bustled away by the Head of PR and was then contradicted by the Deputy Leader to the press.
"The public, staff and governors all need answers and soon."