Why are you ploughing ahead on schools shake-up in East Dunbartonshire?

EDC HQ Southbank Marina - parents demonstrating about school mergers'Photo Emma Mitchell'19/1/13
EDC HQ Southbank Marina - parents demonstrating about school mergers'Photo Emma Mitchell'19/1/13

PARENTS and opposition councillors have slammed a decision to press ahead with controversial plans to merge schools.

Proposals by East Dunbartonshire Council will go forward to the statutory consultation stage within weeks.

Administration councillors voted unanimously to further the plans at a recent crunch meeting of the full council – despite East Dunbartonshire Parent Council Forum issuing a vote of no confidence in the mergers.

Statutory consultation on combining Lenzie and Lenzie Moss primaries and Woodhill and Auchinairn primaries will start in May, with further consultations in August.

And more mergers are on the cards following further ‘informal’ consultation.

But the anger shows little sign of dying down, and many are hoping that the plans will be ‘called in’ by the Scottish Government.

Baldernock Primary parent Niall Campbell, whose children’s school will merge with Torrance under the agreed plans, said: “Councillor Geekie dismissed the Parent Council Forum rejection of ‘No Confidence’ in the IBP report and the council’s interpretation of it.

“So what Councillor Geekie effectively chose to do was to ignore a statutory body that represents 15,386 pupils and their parents.

“In a fully democratic vote, a clear message was delivered to the council.

“This was ignored by Councillor Geekie and the administration, who voted to proceed to statutory consultation.”

Meanwhile, Bishopbriggs North and Torrance councillor Anne McNair accused the administration councillors of a “lack of consistency and arrogance”.

She said: “There was an opportunity, as the SNP had suggested, to work with parent councils, parents and people in their local communities to achieve support and consensus for changes to the school estate. It is appalling that this opportunity has been missed.

“There is an arrogance in the way that decisions have been made and which makes a nonsense of the cost and effort wasted on the consultation exercise when it’s findings have either been ignored or distorted for so many schools.”

Bishopbriggs South councillor Gordan Low also hit out – in particular at the decision to progress the merger of Auchinairn and Woodhill primaries.

He said: “According to the survey that is supposed to have informed this process, just 11 per cent of Auchinairn parents and a mere three per cent of Woodhill parents find a merger between these two schools acceptable – something like four per cent support overall.

“In Auchinairn almost 90 per cent are opposed to losing their local school, in one of the council’s supposed key target regeneration areas.

“I am genuinely astonished that the council administration has brought forward proposals for Bishopbriggs South that are opposed by the overwhelming majority of parents at both Auchinairn and Woodhill.”

But council leader Rhondda Geekie has defended the decision insisting: “Subject to statutory process, this council decision aims to deliver four new-build primary schools, fit for the 21st Century, fit to deliver the Curriculum for Excellence, with all the associated educational benefits for our young people and the wider benefits a new school and its facilities bring to a community.”

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