LABOUR'S election candidate for the upcoming Kilwinning by-election has hit out at North Ayrshire Council's SNP administration for an alleged lack of spending on local schools.

Mary Hume was scathing of the leading party over claims that the council has assessed that repairs totalling £9,837,636 will be required in the town's schools over the next decade or so.

The school assessed as needing the most fund was Kilwinning Academy with potential repairs over the next 10 or more years set to cost a possible £2,267,560.

Irvine Times: Kilwinning Academy.

Though the SNP's Christina Larsen, the council's cabinet member for finance and procurement, has hit back at the assessment of the figures.

She said that the SNP group did not control the budget setting process, which took place in February, and the Labour group had the opportunity to table a motion requesting more funding for the town.

Mary Hume had previously cited that the repairs assessment across Kilwinning schools was above the North Ayrshire average, with the repairs backlog across the council’s whole education estate being around £55million.

The council-hopeful added that despite these figures, the SNP administration had cut capital funding for property maintenance - covering all council-owned properties as well as schools - by 23 per cent between 2023-24 and 2030-31.

She says this figure is now substantially less than what will be required to maintain the council’s assets.

The former headteacher said: “These figures show why Kilwinning needs investment.

Irvine Times: Mary Hume.

“The last Labour council was investing in Kilwinning, including millions of pounds to improve classrooms and facilities at Kilwinning Academy. Now the town has been totally excluded from the council’s investment programme by the current SNP administration.

“With no new investment until 2031 under the SNP, and them making cuts to the council’s property maintenance budgets, the condition of Kilwinning’s schools will only deteriorate further. As a former headteacher, I know that cannot be allowed to happen.

“I will be a champion for Kilwinning, and its young people. Every vote for me in this by-election is a mandate for the investment from the Council that Kilwinning deserves.”

However, Cllr Larsen hit back at the assessment of the council figures and the candidate's understanding of them.

She commented: “With all due respect I’m not sure if the Labour candidate understands how the budget process works.

"It’s common practice to attach indicative figures for potential repairs based on the age and condition of each building. This has always been the case. This is not necessarily what will require to be spent. 

"In February, the full council agreed a budget which included a property lifecycle investment to ensure all council assets, not just schools, remain fit for purpose.

"If the Labour group felt that more money should be spent in Kilwinning they could have proposed an amendment to the budget but they didn’t.

"The SNP has only 12 out of 33 councillors and so doesn’t control this process."

Irvine Times: Christina Larsen.

The cabinet member also rejected claims of a lack of overall funding in Kilwinning.

Cllr Larsen continued: "Spending is prioritised based on need and Kilwinning has benefitted substantially from a variety of investment in previous years, with almost £11m from the housing revenue budget going towards the St Michaels Wynd housing development and refurbishment of Friars Lawn Sheltered Housing Complex.

"Additionally, over £7m has been invested in Kilwinning’s learning estate, cemeteries and town centre.

"In spite of reducing budgets and high inflation the whole council will continue to prioritise spending based on need and available funding, making the best decisions for the whole of North Ayrshire."