Feb 8 2013 By Jackie Grant, Dumfries Standard Friday
Some of the regions most vulnerable people will be thrown on the scrap heap after the council agreed a 25 per cent reduction in the adult learning budget.
That was the warning from Labour Group leader Ronnie Nicholson yesterday as the Tory-SNP administration pressed ahead with cuts amounting to s225,000.
Pleas from protestors outside the council buildings on English Street fell on deaf ears and many have been left devastated by the decision.
Forty-seven-year-old Malcolm Campbell from Lincluden said the cuts would have a huge impact on his life.
The cuts agreed yesterday will affect vulnerable people like me, he said.
For years I hid the problems I had with reading and writing until I plucked up the courage a couple of years ago to go the North West Resource Centre.
Before long, I was achieving my SQA qualifications which was money well spent by the council as it not only improved my life, but also my childrens.
If this centre was not there I would still be hiding my problems. Some of the councillors who sent congratulations emails to the centre for me when I won Scottish Adult Learner of the Year last May are the same ones that pushed for these cuts.
North west Dumfries is one of the most deprived areas in Dumfries and Galloway and for a lot of people, that resource centre is their life. This decision is going to affect so many people for years to come.
The councillors who made this decision should have come to the centre to see what we do and give it a fair assessment. Instead, they sit round a table and make these decisions that affect our lives.
Adult learner Elizabeth McCulloch attended yesterdays meeting. Afterwards, she said: Im devastated. The consequences of this decision could mean that classes will stop, tutors will lose their jobs and people like me will lose not only a social life, but the ability to learn in later life.
The administration was just not prepared to look at the bigger picture. They made their decision and they stuck to it.
Before the budget was set yesterday, Councillor David McKie demanded a rethink by Tory-SNP councillors on slashing the adult learning budget.
He said: The North West Resource Centre is a success story and should not be destroyed by these budget cuts. This will not only affect the adult learners, but also their children.
Upper Nithsdale Councillor John Syme said community and adult learning in his area is a vital service.
We are giving out more food parcels now than we did during the miners strikes but community learning gives people hope of something better for the future. I would plead with the administration to look favourably on community learning and development.
Council leader Ivor Hyslop said difficult decisions had to be made, adding: The current economic difficulties underpin everything we do.