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Pupils have their say and secure change to council budget

School pupils in Swansea have been asked for their views on Swansea Council's draft budget and have even persuaded senior councillors to make a change to their plans.

Pupils at the Big Budget Conversation

Cabinet members have finalised their proposals - including investing an extra £6m in education and schools compared to last year - and they will now go before Full Council next week.

Before this process was completed pupils from 11 comprehensive schools were asked for their opinions on a range of issues including what events they felt were important to the city and spending plans affecting education, as part of an event called the Big Budget Conversation.

As a result of this the youngsters asked cabinet members to look again at a proposed rise of 10p a day for school meals and this has now been reduced to 5p. It means if Full Council passes the budget the cost of school meals will be £2.25 a day from the start of the September 2017 term.

Pupils also said the most important events in Swansea to them were the Wales National  Airshow, large scale music events such as concerts at the Liberty Stadium and at Singleton Park, as well as major sporting events.

Cabinet members have added an extra £200,000 to their budget this year to develop the events programme including a revamped Christmas parade in the city centre.

Cllr Jen Raynor, Cabinet Member for Education, said: "Despite the pressures facing council budgets we have outlined plans to increase spending on education by £6m in the coming year, including an additional £1m for essential school repairs.

"Swansea Council recognises the right of every child to be heard in decisions affecting them and so we sought the views of pupils before finalising our decision. One issue they were quite clear about was the cost of school meals.

"Although the cost is going up slightly the price of school meals remains very competitive in Swansea when compared with many other counties in Wales."

Cabinet members also agreed to continue the subsidy for the School Music Unit, which gives thousands of children in the city access to high quality music tuition, for another year.

Cllr Raynor added: "At a time when other departments are having to make savings the council has underlined its commitment to education by finding significant investment for the coming year.

"On top of this we recently announced plans for more than £100m investment in the next phase of our 21st Century Schools programme and we are busy developing these plans so we can provide modern school buildings for thousands more pupils in the next few years. Education remains the top priority for the council."

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