The Catholic Church has publicly opposed last night’s decision by East Dunbartonshire Councillors to close Milngavie’s only Catholic school.
They say this was voted through against the united opposition of parents and Church and that the decision should be called in by the Scottish Government.
East Dunbartonshire Council now plans to merge St Joseph’s Primary with St Andrew’s Primary in a new building on the St Andrew’s Primary School site in Bearsden, however the Catholic Church believes this decision should be overturned.
A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Glasgow, said: “This is a deeply disappointing decision and one that causes us great concern as the council is effectively planning to end Catholic education in Milngavie.
“This plan must be called in by the Scottish Government and it is our hope that it will be overturned and common sense will prevail.
“We recognise that the local authority has difficult decisions to make and is facing major budget restrictions. We want to work constructively with them to provide a solution which would maintain Catholic education in Milngavie.”
At the meeting, council leader Rhondda Geekie, said: “In May 2009 an Audit Scotland Best Value Report for this council stated that councillors faced some tough challenges in managing our primary school estate.
“Within that report the weaknesses are listed and under occupancy is one.
“We as a council agreed with the report and that something had to be done.
“Audit Scotland told us it would be challenging and councillors always knew it would be. We also knew actually finding agreement without any parental opposition to proposals was not going to be easy.
“At budget consultations at that time we were told that Councillors had to be brave and tackle this issue.
“we are one of the last councils in Scotland to address this issue.
“The reason it has not been done before is because we knew it would be very unpopular and we would lose votes so telling us that now is not news but something we already knew.
“It has been suggested that we are in some way against Catholic education but surely committing approximately £15 million pounds to two new schools proves that is not the case.
“The Catholic Church itself has just started a consultation about merging and closing churches and I am sure it has been done with a heavy heart but still they are going ahead for very good reasons.
“Every option they are looking at includes churches closing and parishes merging so people may have to travel further to worship.
“I am sure that does not mean people will not attend mass but it does mean they will have to adjust to the new arrangements.
“Change is always difficult and I am sure people will be unhappy for a time but that does not mean the church will do nothing and that is exactly the same within our school estate.”