Last chance to save St Joseph’s

Oakburn Park parents protest march to Milngavie precinct to keep St Joseph's PS open.
Oakburn Park parents protest march to Milngavie precinct to keep St Joseph's PS open.

Parents fighting to save Milngavie’s only Catholic school from closure have issued a D-Day plea to local councillors.

East Dunbartonshire Council will vote on the future of St Joseph’s Primary School at a meeting on Thursday, May 15.

In a final bid to save the school, St Joseph’s Parent Council has sent an eight-page document to all councillors to help them reach an informed and balanced decision.

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

Campaigners argue that it will impact on working parents at both St Joseph’s and Craigdhu Primary as they’d lose the wrap-around care at the Timeout Club at St Joseph’s.

They also say that many St Joseph’s pupils would no longer be able to take part in after school activities because not all parents own a car, nursery provision would be lost with the closure of the nursery and local businesses would get less passing trade. Opponents also claim that it won’t save money as the new building will cost nearly £9million and the annual repayments could be as high as £250,000.

Parent council chair Laureen McIntyre said: “If St Joseph’s closes it will leave Milngavie a much poorer place and take the heart out of our community.

“Instead of putting us through months of uncertainty councillors should call a halt now, listen to the people who elect them and vote to keep St Joseph’s in Milngavie.”

Gordon Currie, director of East Dunbartonshire Council’s education and children’s services, said: “As we approach the end of the three week period during which the consultation report is available, I’d like to thank everyone who has taken the opportunity to comment.

“This Improvement Programme is designed to provide young people with the modern, well-equipped schools they deserve. “Education Scotland has provided an independent assessment of the proposal and stated that it ‘addresses the under capacity issues in the current primary schools and clearly offers upgraded facilities’. The council has to find ways of continuing to provide excellent services with fewer resources.

“The council has a strong commitment to denominational education in East Dunbartonshire, however the number of children in Catholic education in Bearsden and Milngavie has fallen significantly in recent years and continues to fall.

“St. Joseph’s roll has dropped 23 per cent in the last decade.

“This proposal, to provide one new school to replace two very under-occupied schools, is an opportunity to deliver on that commitment while providing a more efficient and effective service.

“It is clear from the Equality Impact Assessment of the proposals that there is no intention to discriminate against any particular group.

“The council has a responsibility to consider the impact of any proposal on all groups and that is why the report highlights potential issues which must be considered.

“The next step for council officers is to prepare a report for councillors to consider at their meeting on Thursday, May 15.”

The special council meeting is going to be held at the council’s headquarters, The Marina, 12 Strathkelvin Place, Kirkintilloch, G66 1TJ at 6pm.