Parents say overwhelming NO to school closures in Bearsden, Milngavie and Baldernock

PARENTS from Milngavie, Bearsden and Baldernock have said NO to primary school closures in their response to the council’s recent consultation.

IBP Strategy and Research, who carried out the consultation on behalf of the council, received 7,224 responses - 2,647 were hard copies and 4,577 were online.

The consultation findings, which have now been published on the council website, will inform the next stage of the Primary School Improvement Programme process.

Only one per cent of Milngavie Primary parents said package D (Milngavie) was acceptable and 94 per cent were opposed.

This suggested to merge Milngavie, Clober and Baldernock Primary Schools in a new build on the Clober site OR merge Milngavie and Clober Primary Schools in a new build at the Clober site.

Seventy-six per cent overall opposed the proposal - key issues raised about the possible closure of Milngavie Primary School included a loss of community spirit, traffic congestion, impact on local shops and businesses, concerns over distance for children to travel to school and the size of school rolls.

Many people said they value the existing school and didn’t want it to close.

There was considerable public opposition to package A which suggests a merge of Bearsden and Castlehill Primary Schools in a new build at Castlehill Primary site, a merge of Westerton and Colquhoun Park primary schools in a new build at Colquhoun site or merge Westerton and Colquhoun Park primary schools in a new build incorporating Westerton Hall and library/hall facility at the Westerton hall site.

Most opposition was about the loss and change of use of the Bearsden Primary site - with 571 people saying they would like to keep the school where it is.

Ninety-five per cent of parents at Bearsden Primary opposed it with only one per cent agreeing to the option.

Forty-four per cent of parents at Castehill agreed with the proposal and 33 per cent did not.

A significant proportion commented on the positive aspects of the current arrangements and feared this would be lost and challenged the need for the changes proposed.

Alternative options excluded at the previous stage of the improvement programme were put forward such as the refurbishment of Bearsden Primary.

The report claimed that opposition to the merger of Colquhoun Park Primary and Westerton was less evident - with a majority of parents at Colquhoun Park Primary saying this would be acceptable although they had reservations including size of school rolls, distance to travel and Westerton Primary parents were worried about a perceived loss of green space and other common facilities.

Ninety-one per cent disagreed with the Baldernock Primary School proposal and only nine per cent agreed.

Only 14 per cent of residents in Baldernock wanted Baldernock Primary School to merge with Torrance at the Torrance site, although 60 per cent overall and 85 per cent of Torrance residents agreed with this option.

Parents of children at Baldernock Primary had concerns about the distance that some children would have to travel to school and loss of community spirit and some suggested there was a financial case for retaining and possibly refurbishing Baldernock primary.

Only five per cent of St Joseph’s Primary parents said it was acceptable to merge St Andrew’s and St Joseph’s Primary in a new build on the St Andrew’s site with 85 per cent opposed to it.

Forty seven per cent overall agreed with the option along with 61 per cent of Bearsden residents and 31 per cent of Milngavie residents.

Many comments about this option were about the need, or otherwise, for denominational schooling in Milngavie and practical concerns over distance to schools, traffic congestion and impact on local businesses and shops. There were also concerns about losing two existing school sites close to Milngavie town centre (Milngavie and St Joseph’s).

Most opposition came from Milngavie, particularly parents of children at St Joseph’s Primary who argued for retaining denominational provision within Milngavie.

East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson said: “I commend parents and teachers for the spirit and enthusiasm that they’ve been willing to dedicate to keeping local schools open.

“The report’s findings will come as no surprise to anyone who has been listening to their concerns over the past weeks and months.

“It is absolutely clear that parents find many of the proposed changes unacceptable and the Council faces tough decisions going forward.”

For full results go to www.eastdunbarton.gov.uk to access it from the home page.