Last ditch attempt to save St Joseph’s Primary School fails

Parents demonstrating about proposed closure of St Joseph's Primary School.
Parents demonstrating about proposed closure of St Joseph's Primary School.

SNP councillors failed in a “last ditch attempt” to spare St Joseph’s Primary School from the axe at last week’s council budget meeting.

The SNP group put forward an alternative to the administration’s budget which included a proposal to scrap all funding currently allocated to building a new merged primary school.

But the plan, which would have meant St Joseph’s remaining open, was rejected by the Labour/Conservative administration.

The controversial proposal to close St Joseph’s and transfer the children to a new shared building on the St Andrew’s site in Bearsden has faced strong opposition from parents and local people.

Parents have even put forward a business plan to run St Joseph’s Primary School themselves, taking it out of local authority control.

However planning permission for the project, which is costing £10,660,000, has already been granted and construction is due to start this Easter.

At the council meeting Bearsden SNP Councillor Keith Small, said: “We have been consistent in our view about the proposal for St Andrew’s and St Joseph’s.

“After full public consultation it did not have public support.”

Milngavie SNP Councillor Jim Gibbons, said: “In the council’s own consultation 96 per cent of the school population wanted to keep their school in their community.

“We have talked about the will of the council, but what about the will of the people?”

Depute leader of the SNP Group Gordon Low, added: “We are putting forward this proposal and councillors are free to vote as they wish.

“We have been consistent in our view on St Joseph’s/St Andrew’s.

“We don’t think the administrations plans are right for the community and the project isn’t locally supported.”

However Milngavie’s Labour Councillor Maureen Henry defended their plans.

She said: “It was a difficult decision and we were doing it in the belief that the new schools across East Dunbartonshire will deliver excellence to our pupils.

“One or two parents have been very vocal about these plans and they have the right to do so.

“However I think the children of both schools will see the benefits.”

Speaking after the meeting, SNP Group leader Ian Mackay, said: “This was our last ditch attempt to save St Joseph’s Primary School and we were disappointed that the administration didn’t agree with us.

“Sadly there’s very little we can do now.

“Council officers have the authority to sign the construction contract now.

“We still think it’s entirely the wrong decision to close St Joseph’s, there’s no logic in it.

“There is no financial gain, and there’s no community sense in it either.

“If we become part of the administration after the local election in May we will have a different approach to the schools issue.

“We would get input from teachers, parents and local elected members to decide the best way forward for a particular school.”