East Dunbartonshire Council blunder leaks confidential figures to school campaigners

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COUNCIL chiefs have blamed “human error” after commercially-sensitive information was sent out to protesting parents.

In recent weeks East Dunbartonshire Council has received a stream of Freedom of Information requests from residents concerned about plans to merge local primary schools.

Many demanded figures relating to how council officers arrived at a shortlist of options, which recently went to an informal consultation.

In response, they received a spreadsheet detailing the size of the school rolls and the cost of rebuilding or remodelling the schools to suitably equip them for the future.

But the spreadsheet also contained easily-accessible ‘hidden cells’ containing estimates of how much the council would hope to raise by the sale of each school site.

Potential buyers would be able to use the information to gain an advantage over the council when entering negotiations on price.

The ‘hidden’ section of the spreadsheet also includes the potential savings to be made by closing each school, as well as the amount that would need to borrowed to build each of the merged ‘super-schools’.

A minimum of £4.5million would need to be borrowed to complete each new-build, rising to £22.5million to create a building to house pupils from Gartconner, Oxgang, Hillhead, Harestanes and Gartconner primaries.

The savings to be made from closing each individual school are estimated at £300,000 per year.

Parents have responded angrily to the figures – questioning both the prices and councillors’ previous assertions that the mergers were not a bid to balance the books.

A Woodhill Primary parent said: “Although we all suspected that money was a major factor in the council’s proposals for our schools, this makes it more clear that money, rather than what is best for our children, is at the forefront of decision-making.”

However, Gordon Currie, head of education at the council, said: “These are preliminary working estimates from early in the process and we do not anticipate that the disclosure of these conservative estimates will have any bearing on the consultation.”

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