‘Poison pen’ shock in Milngavie schools battle

Milngavie traders with anonymous letters they received which threatened to boycott their shops unless they take down posters which support St Joseph's Primary School. Donald MacInnes from Colpi, Wendy Ross from Driftwood and Ian Levrie- chairperson of Milngavie My Way'Photo Emma Mitchell'27/9/13
Milngavie traders with anonymous letters they received which threatened to boycott their shops unless they take down posters which support St Joseph's Primary School. Donald MacInnes from Colpi, Wendy Ross from Driftwood and Ian Levrie- chairperson of Milngavie My Way'Photo Emma Mitchell'27/9/13

Milngavie traders have been horrified to receive an anonymous letter which claims to be from parents at St Andrew’s Primary School in Bearsden.

The sender threatens to boycott the shops which display a poster to support St Joseph’s Primary School in Milngavie which faces closure under East Dunbartonshire Council’s schools improvement programme.

The council plans to merge St Joseph’s and St Andrew’s Primary Schools in a new building on the current St Andrew’s site.

The letter also says they are concerned by the “anti Bearsden/St Andrew’s fervour” which has been encouraged by some of the “zealots of St Joseph’s” and accuses shop owners of being anti St Andrew’s and Bearsden.

Ian Lavrie, chair of Milngavie Traders Association, said: “The threats in this letter has upset many traders.

“This a shocking way for parents at St Andrew’s to conduct themselves.

“Traders in Milngavie have supported Milngavie Primary and St Joseph’s Primary School as we don’t want our community to be ripped apart.

“We value the footfall of customers from these schools which is vital for our businesses to survive.”

Wendy Ross, the owner of Ruby Red and Driftwood in Milngavie, said: “I was horrified to get this letter which is a form of bullying.

“As it’s unsigned we can’t respond to the sender and as far as we’re concerned there is no anti-Bearsden/St Andrew’s campaign.”

Andre Alexander owner of Fantoosh Fish, said: “We are by no means anti St Andrew’s we just wanted to show consideration to the parents at St Joseph’s. I will not be taking down my poster after receiving an anonymous threat.”

Laureen McIntyre, Chair of St Joseph’s Parent Council said: “I simply don’t believe that parents at St Andrew’s Primary School would send an anonymous letter. This bullying tactic will horrify decent people in both communities.

“As a school community we are really grateful to local businesses who have put our posters in their windows.

“I for one now intend to make a special effort to do my shopping locally and urge others to do the same. It is important we show the same support to shops in our town as they have shown to us.”

Dr. Cav. Terri Colpi, business development director at Colpi’s ice cream shop, said: “We were surprised to receive such an anonymous letter, from a group who are clearly unofficial as far as St Andrew’s School in Bearsden is concerned.

“Colpi’s has been serving children from St Joseph’s School in Milngavie for 85 years and our family has four generations of attendance at the school. We are proud to support the campaign and are hopeful of its success.

“St Joseph’s school is an integral part of our community and our parish. It has been part of the ‘beating heart’ of Milngavie for 140 years and its contribution to the town goes without saying.

“For us, it is simply a question of being 100 per cent behind keeping our local Catholic school - a school which has a long history in Milngavie and a huge amount of local support, from all sides of the community.

“The parents of St Joseph’s do not want a new school in an area outside Milngavie - they are happy with the current local school and the very high standards of education and pastoral care their children receive there. This view was expressed loud and clear at the very well attended public meeting held at St Joseph’s on September 16.

“If the parents of St Andrew’ School in Bearsden want a new school for the Catholic children of Bearsden, that is entirely their concern”.

Councillor Ian Mackay said: “In my view this is simply mischevious and nothing can be gained from such a divisive position. The fact that the letter was anonomyous, giving the traders no chance to respond, was unacceptable. The community will not be split.”

The parent council at St Andrew’s was unavailable for comment.

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