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Wednesday, 13 February, 2002, 06:20 GMT
2m cuts planned to aid schools
Library generic picture
More than half of Swindon's libraries could close
People in Swindon are about to hear whether more than half the borough's libraries must close to pay for education improvements.

Councillors were expected to decide on Wednesday whether to make arts cuts of 2m, after a damning inspectors' report on Swindon's education service last year.

Community arts groups have been warned they could lose funding or even be made homeless.

The report by the Ofsted watchdog last year found serious weaknesses in the way Swindon's education authority was run.

It is essential that the education of our children is given the priority it deserves.

Councillor Mike Bawden
Strategic management was poor or very poor in most areas, said the inspectors.

They said the authority impeded educational improvements by tying up schools with lengthy consultations and by unclear management.

"The partnership with schools is far from secure," the report went on.

"There is a high level of confusion, suspicion and mistrust, which is consuming headteachers' energies and deflecting them from their essential talk of raising standards."

Grant anger

Other features were praised, inlcuding support for governors and travellers' children.

Councillor Mike Bawden, leader of the council, says on its website: "This is a difficult time for Swindon Borough Council.

"In the wake of a poor Ofsted report it is essential that the education of our children is given the priority it deserves.

"The council finds itself in very difficult financial circumstances, due in no small measure to a chronic under-funding from central government."

But councillors caused anger recently by granting 20,000 to Wiltshire Arts Festival, due to take place at Lydiard Park in August.

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