Monday, 23 November 2015

Officials mislead councillors

Published: November 20 2015.

Council officials have been caught misleading councillors by giving false information in response to a question on charges for hiring school facilities.

At the November 4th meeting of North Ayrshire Council, Kilwinning councillor Joe Cullinane asked, “How much has the Council charged Kilwinning Academy to hire their own school hall and music department for school events held outwith school hours in the last year?”

The question arose after Cllr Cullinane had been told the school was charged £933 to hire its own hall for a performance of the musical Grease.

Responding for the Council’s SNP administration, Cllr Alan Hill, Cabinet Member for Community and Culture, told Joe Cullinane, “Kilwinning Academy was charged £933.60, which was then internally credited-back to the school budget.  The school does not, therefore, incur charges to hire its own facilities.”

Cllr Hill’s response, which had been provided to him by unelected officials employed by the Council, stated, “This system is in place because the majority of lets in the school are to external organisations and this ensures that all lets are captured in the system.”

Labour’s Joe Cullinane queried the answer to his question, saying that the information provided by officials to Cllr Hill “did not appear to be the impression of the [Kilwinning Academy] Parent Council, nor the Headteacher”.

Cllr Hill, who is also Deputy Leader of the Council, indicated he would “seek further confirmation of the information provided”.

However, it has now been revealed that Kilwinning Academy did not receive-back the £933 it was charged for the hire of its own hall.

In a statement to the Irvine Herald newspaper, an unnamed Council spokesperson admitted the information provided to councillors Hill and Cullinane “was, in part, inaccurate”.  The spokesperson did not indicate which part of the information was incorrect, but the3towns understands it was the core element of the response, the claim that Kilwinning Academy had not been charged for hiring its own facility.

North Ayrshire Council has confirmed its current letting policy in relation to schools facilities is to be reviewed.

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