EXTRA money will be found for schools, a council leader has said ahead of a crunch budget meeting.

Monmouthshire County Council has been preparing a budget with cuts £8.4 million of cuts for the coming financial year, including a demand schools find £854,000 in savings.

But the council’s Labour leader Mary Ann Brocklesby has now said some additional money will mean schools will not have to find all of those savings, which were in part a result of the council having said it couldn’t fund teaching and non-teaching staff pay rises in full.

Plans to charge people for food waste bags have also been dropped after concerns were raised it could lead to a drop in recycling rates and heavy fines for the council.

The cabinet, which includes the authority’s sole Green Party councillor, is due to agree its final budget proposals – which have included a 7.5 per cent council tax increase – when it meets next Wednesday, February 28.

The final proposals will then be presented to the full council for approval the following day, where Labour and the Greens have a slim majority due to an agreement with one independent councillor.

Budget papers showing the full proposals, and how they are funded, aren’t due to be released until later on Tuesday, February 20, but the council has said it has made changes as a result of the public consultation which closed last week.

A council press release stated: “We have found a way to provide additional funding to education for the coming year.

“As a result, schools will no longer need to make all the cost savings that were in the draft proposals.

“The council has also removed the proposal to charge for food waste bags.

“The condition of our roads was another concern highlighted in the feedback, and the council has looked at ways to increase the budget for highways investment.”

Cllr Brocklesby, who represents Llanelly Hill near Abergavenny, said: “The cabinet team, together with officers, have reflected on what has been discussed and made changes to the draft proposals where possible.“

Conservative Group Leader Cllr Richard John (Mitchel Troy) said: “While I’m pleased the additional money from the UK Government will go towards reducing Labour’s £1 million planned school cuts, this budget will still result in school staff cuts and pain for residents across Monmouthshire.

“I’m really disappointed that these councillors have chosen the easy lazy option of cutting services and putting up council tax and made no effort to root out wasteful spending or reform services to deliver efficiencies.

“For the second year running, it’s children and young people who are being hardest hit by Labour’s budget.

“School leaders have already warned that these budget cuts will result in staff redundancies and the most vulnerable children will lose one to one support.

“I can’t understand why they would propose to take £835,000 from schools but then only shave £0.3million from the combined £35 million budget for Chief Executive’s Unit Directorate, the Law and Governance Directorate and the Corporate Costs and Levies Directorate. It feels like these Labour councillors have their priorities all wrong.

“While cutting leisure centre opening hours by 22 hours per week is a crazy proposal when you consider how keeping fit and healthy makes people less dependent on the NHS and social care.

“These proposals together with a 7.8% rise in council tax will be painful for many Monmouthshire families and I can’t see how councillors could possibly endorse this budget.”

Head teacher at Monmouth Comprehensive School Hugo Hutchinson said:” Our whole school community – students, parents, governors and staff – responded strongly to the budget consultation, and I am grateful to the Council for listening to our concerns.”

The proposed budget will be set and a report will be published, which will be discussed in cabinet on 28 February and then in the next Council meeting on 29 February.

The agenda can be viewed here: https://democracy.monmouthshire.gov.uk/ ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=144&MId=5406