Schools campaigners fear consultation is no more than a “sham”

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WOPRRIED parents and campaign groups in East Dunbartonshire say they are becoming increasingly concerned that the ‘informal’ consultation in relation to the Primary School Improvement Programme is no more than a sham.

They claim the majority of councillors in the council’s administration group are not answering e-mails from worried parents, and that members of ‘Save our School’ action groups have been forced to attend councillors’ surgeries in an attempt to obtain information regarding the proposed closure of a number of primary schools.

A spokesperson for the Save Gartconner action group said: “One of the main questions asked of councillors who are members of the administration is - if the returns of the Primary School Improvement Programme informal consultation are 75 per cent or more against the proposals detailed in the questionnaire, how will that influence your vote at the council meeting scheduled for March 27?

“Every councillor who is a member of the administration across the length and breadth of East Dunbartonshire who was asked this question at their surgeries indicated that they would have to follow the party line and vote for the proposals.

“They went on to say that if they did vote against the proposal and against the party line they would have to resign as a member of their political party.

“Why have council decided to waste time and money taking the proposal to an informal consultation process when they have no intention of taking the wishes of the electorate into account?

“Council leader Rhondda Geekie confirmed this in last week’s Herald when she side-stepped calls for a free vote on the proposals when the results of the recent consultation are reported back to council in March.”

The spokesman added: “This is the council’s sneaky way of forcing through the proposal to close a number of primary schools unchallenged, and when the public complain council leader Rhondda Geekie can say we asked for your opinion by going through an informal consultation process before we went ahead.

“This informal consultation is sham and every parent in East Dunbartonshire whose children’s education is going to be affected by these scathing school closures must take action now to fight to make their feelings known.

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

Council leader Rhondda Geekie has previously insisted that all submissions received during the ‘informal’ consultation period will be considered by councillors before any final decisions are made.

She has also repeatedly said that any individual merger plans would be subject to a full statutory consultation before being green-lighted.

When it comes to voting on the proposals, Councillor Geekie has said that the options being taken forward would be run past administration councillors BEFORE any vote.

She said: “When the administration bring forward a paper on the schools - which may not even contain proposals for individual schools - in March it will be a paper that all administration councillors are comfortable with.

“We will not be putting forward anything that any administration councillors disagree with or would wish to vote against.”

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