REGARDING the article about Durham County Council’s decision to write off a debt of £3.4m at Wellfield School (Echo, Nov 16), it just beggars belief that ratepayers’ money is being used in this way.

Since 1990 when schools received their own delegated budgets to enable them have control over their own spending, one of the key elements was that schools didn’t have to dash out and spend the cash before March 31 each year to avoid losing it.

Under Local Management of Schools (LMS), as it was known, any year end surpluses would carry forward to future years. The vast majority of schools welcomed this opportunity to look ahead and make long term strategic plans especially if difficult decisions had to be made, in particular falling pupil numbers.

How Wellfield has managed to accumulate a deficit of £3.4m, no doubt a substantial proportion of their annual budget, raises huge questions as to the monitoring role of both the local authority and the governors.

What sort of message does it give out to the vast majority of other schools who do comply with the LMS rules if one of their ‘colleagues’ manages to run up a huge deficit only to be written off by taxpayers?

Paul Turgoose, Newton Aycliffe