School closures, Morrisons and dog mess – Letters to the Editor

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READERS have their say on the issues which matter – March 6, 2013

I AM writing to you to voice my concerns at the ‘proposed’ mergers within EDC primary schools. I have said ‘proposed’ as I feel this consultation with parents and residents is simply a formality and that the decision has been made.

Nonetheless, it is still something that I, and many other parents and residents, feel very strongly about.

Having attended the consultation meeting at Oxgang Primary I was utterly dismayed at the attitude of John Simmons.

His answer to every question put to him was ‘we will make it work‘ and ‘management will make it work’. I’m sorry, but when it comes to my children’s education I am looking for more definitive answers that that.

He also kept referring to other previous secondary school mergers which had worked. Anyone with an ounce of common sense and children would tell you that to compare the two is an absolute nonsense.

The only person who seemed to speak any sense was Councillor Jack Young, who spoke the words that every parent was thinking – the proposal is absolutely flawed.

The idea of merging four primary schools, resulting in an approximate capacity of 651 pupils, cannot surely go ahead.

I can only assume that anyone in favour of this does not have children or if they do, did not pay much attention to their needs throughout their primary education.

There are so many issues with this proposal that it can only mean that money is the first and foremost priority.

For a start there is the size of the proposed ‘super school‘ – the idea of sending four and five-year-olds to start primary school in a building with over 650 pupils is ridiculous. It would be beyond intimidating for them.

This is in effect a secondary school experience you are proposing to send them to at such a young age. Education experience should be a learning curve and a step up from previous experience – nursery onto primary school then onto high school then onto college or university.

We recently attended a Scottish open afternoon at Oxgang Primary which was hosted by my sons and nephews’ class. This was a great afternoon which showcased the talent and hard work put in by both pupils and teaching staff. Experiences like this will not happen in a ‘Super School‘ – bigger school, more pupils, more places to hide, less chance to shine.

The community feeling within the school and the history that comes with it will be gone and we cannot allow this to happen.

How would bullying be addressed at a ‘super school‘? In the current set-up teachers know the pupils and their families, they are aware of problems with certain children and are equipped to deal with these problems within a small school environment.

The children know who is on the playground looking out for them and also know the other pupils, therefore feel safe in this environment.

In my opinion as a parent a ‘Super School’ would just provide an environment for more problems to go unnoticed.

Then there is the location of the ‘proposed’ site for said ‘super school‘. Not one of the proposed sites or current school grounds are located in an area equipped to deal with the level of traffic this would cause.

Each location is a residential area, one of which (Oxgang) already has a high school next to it. The level of traffic around Oxgang Primary at the moment is bad enough, never mind tripling the numbers. Again, we are not talking about high school pupils who are aware of their surroundings and road safety, we are talking about four-11-year-olds.

Has any thought been put into the cost of transport to get children to school? As it stands just now, most children live within walking distance of their school.

Oxgang has a great reputation and my son has thrived there. I understand that this school is in the excellence standard of education category.

Are we really so desperate for money in this country that one of the first things to do is throw our children’s education backward?

There has been very little mention of the two new housing developments in East Dunbartonshire which will increase numbers at Oxgang, Gartconner and St Agatha’s.

That’s not even getting started on the numerous developments in the area which are at the planning/proposal stages.

I wonder how happy Councillor Geekie would have been to send any child of hers to a ‘super school’?

None of this adds up, not one bit of it. Every part of it is wrong and we will fight this every step of the way. Biggest comment of all – absolutely flawed!

Gary Dalrymple,

A very concerned parent.

ARE the council living in their own special bubble where the recession hasn’t happened?

They are showing a blatant disregard for the current financial climate and are spending our money like it’s water. They have closed the perfectly-adequate Tom Johnston House to save money and then spent £750,000 to move into and outfit the Marina. The other staff were all pushed out to Broomhill where it seems there aren’t enough desks and staff have to travel to other locations to work where there is a spare desk. As there is no public service desk at the Marina, the council spent £500,000 to shrink the library and put the Hub into it. So far they’ve spent £1.25million to save money!

However, the Marina is only rented. The council are going to close Broomhill and move everything to a new complex at Westerhill. In fact they said in the recent budget the new offices will cost £13.5million and if it cost £750,000 to move along the road to the Marina, don’t expect much change from £1.5 million to move everything to Westerhill. So to save money the council have either spent or declared an intention to spend over £16million. Just how much savings will they need to make to pay back that much money – will we actually have any staff left to populate the new offices?

Alongside that £16million we can now see from the figures incompetently spilled by the council from the schools improvement programme that they are only looking at £8million income from selling the emptied school land. This means they will be borrowing another £58.5million for the new schools.

Why do they want to plunge the area into a debt they have said themselves will take at least 30 years to pay back? Is it per chance that so many senior councillors are looking on retiring at the end of this term and don’t really care who needs to clear up the mess? All I can say is that I am absolutely terrified about the level of cuts and ‘savings’ that will be needed to pay this back. Just how much savings are needed to pay back over £70million pounds?

David Bauld,

Save Gartconner.

I WOULD like to draw your reader’s attention to the lack of transparency from East Dunbartonshire Council’s Administration in relation to the plans for school closures in East Dunbartonshire.

Council Leader Rhondda Geekie stated in last week’s Herald– “When the Administration bring forward a paper on the schools in March it will be a paper that all Administration councillors are comfortable with”.

For the record, the Administration consists of the Gang of 14 (nine Labour councillors, three Lib/Dem councillors and two Conservative councillors)

The views and opinions of the other 10 elected councillors will have no impact on the paper on schools brought forward by the Administration.

If the 10 councillors out with the Administration are being ignored, what are the chances that the results of the informal consultation questionnaires will meet the same fate?

In my own ward – Ward 8 – we have three councillors.

Jack Young (Independent) and John Jamieson (SNP) have listened to the electorate and are against any school closures in Ward 8.

The majority of parents who have attended Parents Council meetings and councillors’ surgeries are against school closures.

Stewart MacDonald (Labour) who is a member of the Administration and has been put in office by the electorate in Ward 8 will have no choice but to vote for the paper presented by the Administration – even if it is against the wishes of the majority of the electorate in Ward 8.

Once again I ask Councillor Geekie to allow a free vote and let councillors in the Administration vote in line with their electorate’s wishes and not force councillors to vote along party lines.

Our children are our most important resource and their education should come before penny-pinching cost-cutting from an Administration which is losing its credibility more and more as every day passes.

Any parent who wants advice on how they can help to fight these closures and safeguard their children’s education can contact us on savegartconner@gmail.com

Ian Bowman,

Save Gartconner Action Group.

WITH the consideration of Morrisons new store put to a site visit and the refusal of the petrol filling station, is this the time to take a fresh look at the development of the former high school site?

As Morrisons are now the owner of both The Triangle and high school site, should the masterplan not be widened to include The Triangle?

One of the problems with the existing plan is that it does not include it and it therefore acts as an obstacle to the layout and access to the proposed site.

St Matthew’s Church has also indicated that it would like to redevelop their site, but have not been included in the masterplan as they are not ready to start yet.

If we are to consider a new plan for the town centre would it not be better to wait and look at the whole, including the St Matthew’s site and the library?

This would allow for the town centre to be developed as a whole rather than as separate parts.

The development of the town centre is a generational opportunity yet we are rushing towards piecemeal development at the behest of a major supermarket operator.

Why can’t we wait and widen the remit of the masterplan to actually achieve a town centre that we can be proud of?

Alan Slack,

(via e-mail).

I WAS reading about dog poo in the Kirkintilloch  Herald recently and I have  been in touch with that department.

I was told to look out to see whose dogs are doing all the pooing in Parkburn Avenue football park! So I was to do their job for them . . . I don’t think so.

They would come down and by that time the owners of these dogs would be away.

The park has become one big dog loo. I’ve even seen a woman park her car, take the dogs out, let them do their needs, go back to the car and drive off.

Even the island and the post box are full of it too.

I have two grandkids who like to fly their kites in the park, but the two of them have had to be stripped, bathed and given clean clothes due to the mess.

Folk take their dogs into the swing-park as well.

Name and address supplied.

I’VE got to say I agree with the recent article on drivers accelerating through amber and sometimes red lights.

It’s a real issue of concern. Obviously the local police are stretched due to resources, but couldn’t cameras be installed to catch these idiots?

Concerned motorist.

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