Wednesday, June 28, 2006

£2 million scholarship scandal to end?

First with the news...

The controversial scholarship scheme which costs more than £2 million a year to pay the private school fees of a few Stamford children could be scrapped within two years following a vote at a council meeting this week.

A proposal to end the scheme was approved by an all-party policy development group at Lincolnshire County Council yesterday (Tuesday).

The Council’s all-Tory Executive will consider the recommendation next Tuesday (4th July).

I've campaigned to end this scandal for the past five years - and I'll carry on campaigning until it is finally scrapped.

I hope that this time the Executive will listen to the policy development group for the move, which had Tory as well as Labour support.

For years, the Tories who run the county council have been scrabbling to find ways to make their unfair scheme legal, but the game is now up. Such a scheme simply cannot be justified in the 21st Century.

I believe it is obscene to force every parent in Lincolnshire to pay the private school fees for a few Stamford children and it is an obsenity which cannot be justified.

It is wrong to force every council taxpayer in Lincolnshire to pay for a privilege that the vast majority are barred from even applying for, no matter how talented their children. And every other school budget in the county is top-sliced to pay for this scandal.

It costs Lincolnshire council taxpayers £9,100 extra to send a child to Stamford Endowed School than it does to a state secondary, comprehensive or grammar school.

It adds up to more than £2 million a year which should be used to raise standards for every Lincolnshire child – not just a few Stamford children.

Councillors were told that falling birth roles mean that surplus places will be created at Bourne Grammar School and free transport would be offered to Stamford parents of children who pass their 11-plus.

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