Monday, September 03, 2007

Schools saved from closure threat

More than 20 closure-threatened schools and nurseries in Edinburgh have been given a stay of execution after SNP councillors withdrew their support.

Their Liberal Democrat coalition partners on Edinburgh City Council have now decided not to press ahead with the consultation on the closures.

It follows an announcement last month that 13 primary, three secondary schools and six nurseries could close.

The SNP members said they wanted to go "back to the drawing board".

The threat to some of the capital's schools is likely to resurface but not until at least 2008.

Steve Cardownie, the SNP group leader on the council and deputy leader of the closuresthe authority, said too many schools had been named.

He said: "We're not talking about the report coming back amended and then going back out again.

"We want to go back to the drawing board and look at the situation afresh.

"We have said this is not about savings and not about money, if that's the case the council can afford to take its time.

Mr Cardownie added: "Our main concern is that what we've heard from parents and pupils shows they are lacking faith in the process and therefore they will have no faith in the outcome.

"Some parents have been in contact with parents, attending meetings, and reporting back to us. Clearly the situation is untenable."

Jenny Dawe, Edinburgh City Council leader, said that without the agreement of the full coalition there was no prospect of the current consultation being agreed at council.

A report will go to the next full council meeting in September to formally terminate the current consultation process.

She said: "This is very disappointing news. We entered into this process with a genuine motive to consult as widely as possible with families across Edinburgh.

"We have already gathered a number of good ideas which could have led to a very open and honest debate.

This could have produced some very creative solutions for education in Edinburgh."

Marilyne MacLaren, convener for education, said: "This news is of considerable regret to me and my political peers.

"We embarked on this modernisation programme to ensure that we provide every child in Edinburgh with a first class education."

'Modernisation programme'

She added: "Although I appreciate that people had difficulty with some of the detail of the proposals, there was considerable support for the rationale behind the proposals from the educational community.

"This was the biggest consultation process the council has ever undertaken."

Aud Noble, 40, a mother of two whose four-year-old daughter Kira attends closure threatened Westfield Court Nursery, said: "I am absolutely delighted that the SNP realised it would be political suicide to continue with these plans.

"However, it is very important parents keep up the campaign because 2008 is just around the corner."

Source: BBC

No comments: