Council under fire over ‘wall of secrecy’

Auchinairn Primary is under threat
Auchinairn Primary is under threat

Education chiefs have responded to the Scottish Government’s decision to step in over a controversial primary schools merger.

But there was anger last week from SNP councillors who say the contents of the response - which justifies the merging of the schools - is being kept a SECRET from parents

The Scottish Government ‘called in’ East Dunbartonshire Council’s decision to merge Auchinairn Primary and Woodhill Primary, in Bishopbriggs, on the current Woodhill.

But the plans proved massively unpopular with parents who successively lobbied the Scottish Government to step in.

Bishopbriggs South SNP councillor Gordan Low says that the council response was sent without the knowledge of opposition councillors.

He said: “I had asked weeks ago, without success, for a copy of the evidence which the council submitted to the Scottish Government in response to the ‘call-in’ of the decision to merge Auchinairn and Woodhill primary schools.

“When I finally received a copy of the documentation on April 22 I discovered the information had been passed to the Scottish Government as far back as March 27.

“To make matters worse the contents of the response are now labelled ‘Private and Confidential’.

“As a councillor I am therefore blocked from sharing this information and the detail of the council’s attempt to justify the merger decision which Labour/Tory/LibDem councillors took despite overwhelming opposition from the local community.”

He added: “The merger decision in itself is appalling, but the secrecy and the attempt to block access to information which should be readily available to the public and the local school communities is a complete disgrace.

“Councillors should be accountable and should be made to explain their decisions instead of hiding behind a wall of secrecy.”

Gordon Currie, the council’s director of education, confirmed that the response would not be made public.

He explained: “Our proposals for Auchinairn and Woodhill primaries are now part of a statutory process being conducted by the Scottish Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning, who is in the process of actively considering all the facts of this particular case before he makes his decision.

“Our response to the Scottish Government is part of that statutory process and it would not be appropriate for the council to make it public at this point.

“Once the Minister has made his considerations, he will make his decision public. At that point we will be in a position to comment on the Scottish Government’s findings.”