Hopes are high that a decision which saw several companies turned down for funding so they could hire apprentices will be overturned at tomorrow’s meeting of Ryedale District Council.
Cllr Paul Andrews and Lib Dem Cllr Elizabeth Shields have put forward a motion asking that Norton Primary School, Suddaby’s Crown Hotel, The Yard pub, both in Malton, and the Goodys hairdressing Group should all receive the money from the £150,000 Ryedale Apprenticeship Scheme.
They also want £13,500 originally earmarked for new equipment at The Academy hair and beauty training school in Norton to be reinstated.
The Mercury understands that officers at Ryedale District Council had recommended the businesses be given the money in a report to members but that a decision was then taken by the ruling Conservative group to turn them down.
The decision was taken behind closed doors as information used in the report was described as financially sensitive.
But one Tory has said they wanted the money to go to the “higher end of the scale” to create “quality jobs.”
It is believed that businesses which were granted funding from the pot include, among others, Swinton Technology, Micro Metalsmiths, Specialist Cars of Malton, Ryedale Folk Museum, the North York Moors National Park, and the The Talbot Hotel.
Derwent Training Association is also understood to have received £16,500 of the £30,000 set aside to help training providers to buy new equipment, while the application from The Academy was turned down.
Now Cllr Andrews, an independent, says councillors who voted to turn down the funding bids have a chance to rectify their “mistake.”
“I believe the ruling group had a meeting and may have made their own decision before the last council meeting, and then whipped themselves into excluding some important training opportunities from the previously agreed list,” he said. “I doubt if they were fully informed when they decided to do this. I think they made a mistake, and this motion provides an opportunity to put the mistake right.”
But, speaking at last week’s Norton Town Council meeting, Tory Cllr Luke Ives said: “There was no statutory obligation for Ryedale District Council to do this but it has been done in these difficult times and was four and a half times over subscribed.
“There were a lot of deliberations but we wanted to ensure the money went to the higher end of the scale such to create quality jobs such as engineers although I would agree that we need all sorts of jobs.”
His comments provoked a fierce reaction from Lib Dem Cllr Lindsay Burr, the owner of The Academy and the Goodys Group, who said: “I take Cllr Ives comments as a personal insult as many business owners in Ryedale will.
“On what fact is Cllr Ives basing his opinion that hair and beauty is a low quality job? Cllr Ives rejected the opportunity for 25 young people in Ryedale to have an apprenticeship what does he say to those 25 young people and the local businesses that want to support them?
“Due to this snobbery and ignorance young people in Ryedale will not benefit from specialist workplace training in their chosen industry.”
Cllr Linda Cowling, leader of the Conservative group, said it would be difficult to comment on why the decisions were made as it was taken behind closed doors due to the sensitivity of the information from all the businesses that applied.
She added: “There is no official report and we have no new information which would make us change our mind. There is no reason to vote any differently as no new information has come forward.”