St Joseph’s parents welcome Archbishop’s support

Archbishop Tartaglia
Archbishop Tartaglia

Members of the campaign to save St Joseph’s Primary form closure have welcomed the message of support from the Archbishop of Glasgow Philip Tartaglia.

Last week, the Archbishop wrote to the Scottish Government asking them to ‘call in’ East Dunbartonshire Council’s decision to close the Milngavie school.

Laureen McIntyre, chair of the St Joseph’s Parent Council (SJPC), said they had ‘taken real heart’ from the Archbishop’s letter of support.

She said: “We are delighted that Archbishop Tartaglia has written personally to the Scottish Government asking them to stop the closure of St Joseph’s. Ministers must consider the church’s views very seriously when making their decision.

“It was also kind of him to praise parents for our campaign. Over the past few months, the whole community has rallied round in support of St Joseph’s and we have taken real heart 
from his comments.”

According to the council, under-capacity was one of the main reasons behind the
 decision to close St Joseph’s.

They say the number of children in Catholic education throughout Milngavie and Bearsden has fallen over the last few years, with the roll at St Joseph’s down 23% in 10 years.

However, Mrs McIntyre disputes these claims and argues the school has continued to grow in popularity.

She said: “St Joseph’s is the fastest growing school in the whole of East Dunbartonshire and our children have the right to be educated in their own community here in Milngavie.”

As part of their ongoing campaign, the SJPC recently visited the Scottish Parliament where they handed in their own petition before later meeting with Mike Russell, the education secretary.

In a statement last week, the council’s director of education and children’s services, Gordon Currie, said the merger represents a £9million investment in Catholic education in Milngavie.

He also added that their plans were devised along with the Catholic Church and denied any allegations of prejudice.

The Scottish Government will now consider the decision to call in the St Joseph’s closure plans and will make an announcement next week.

A spokesperson said: “It is now for ministers to decide whether or not to call in the decision.

“The deadline for ministers to convey their decision to the council is Wednesday, June 25.”

In such instances, the government may only intervene if procedural improprieties are discovered on the part of the council.

Nevertheless, local MSP Gil Paterson believes there is ‘enough evidence’ to support the campaigners’ claims.

In his Milngavie and Bearsden Herald column last week, he said: “The only sensible outcome to this would be for the council to admit they were wrong and reverse the decision.”