Headlines: May 1st, 2003

The Local Government Association wants an assurance that the government was not the source behind a newspaper article that a number of local councils are set to be “named and shamed” in the disagreement over funds being held back from schools.The LGA says parents and teachers deserve clear and factual information on the allocation of funding for schools, not unhelpful newspaper speculation. Its chairman, Sir Jeremy Beecham, has written to the Education Secretary Charles Clarke stressing the need for there to be an agreement between central and local government over the facts of the issue.

In the letter, Sir Jeremy says, the release of the type of information that formed the basis of a story in The Times, would be contrary to the protocols agreed between the government and local authorities and, coming as it did, within 48 hours of the local elections would also be a major and unacceptable breach of the purdah conventions.

Requesting a meeting between the LGA and officials from the Department for Education, Sir Jeremy says, “It is essential that there is an agreement between central and local government on the facts of what has happened in the recent settlement so that we can explain the position clearly and accurately to schools, teachers and parents.”

He said the premature release of potentially inaccurate information completely undermined that objective and would undoubtedly generate more unhelpful confusion and misinformation. Sir Jeremy wants the meeting between the two sides to agree what information about the settlement is to be made publicly available.