AN education authority is denying opposition claims that its spending on schools is to be cut.

The opposition Labour group on Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council is calling on the council's ruling Tory, LibDem and Independent coalition to reaffirm its commitment to education services, following a consultation looking at the education budget - and a proposed questionnaire on possible cuts in spending.

Councillor George Dunning, leader of the Labour group, said: "I am concerned that the public are being encouraged to give the green light to officers to reduce education spending.

"The council has recently introduced a questionnaire inviting the public to decide whether spending should be increased or reduced across a range of services - without any information on what the level of services are, or how they are operated.

"In addition, a specific question asks people to what extent do they feel the council should continue to spend at the recommended level for education."

Council cabinet member for education, Steve Kay, said there was no threat to education budgets.

He said: "Of course the council will continue to spend at the recommended level. In the past two years, Redcar and Cleveland's coalition has proved that education is of the highest priority, as evidenced by our excellent GCSE results.

"Yes, we would like more resources, but we are continually driving for increased efficiencies, which is why schools with surplus places are being amalgamated. At the same time, we are replacing old schools with new - something New Labour failed abysmally to do."

Coun Kay said he was astonished by Labour's stance as, when it was in control of the council, it put out a similar questionnaire, containing the identical question to which the group is now objecting.