LATEST: Bearsden and Westerton primaries escape the axe

Bearsden Primary - parents protesting about the closure'Photo Emma Mitchell'11/12/12
Bearsden Primary - parents protesting about the closure'Photo Emma Mitchell'11/12/12

BEARSDEN and Westerton primaries look set to be spared the axe.

East Dunbartonshire councillors have decided they will not support merging Bearsden at the Castlehill Primary site, meaning the plan is now dead in the water.

A letter by Bearsden LibDem councillor Vaughan Moody, seen by the M&B Herald, also confirms that an option to merge Westerton and Colquhoun Park on the site of Westerton Hall has also been kicked into touch.

Instead, it is believed that the schools could be merged on the present Westerton site.

This saves Westerton, but condemns Colquhoun Park to closure.

The LibDems’ are the first party in the Lib-Lab-Tory administration to break cover and reveal how they will vote.

Their actions are a gamechanger, pointing to how the votes will fall in next Wednesday’s (March 27) powderkeg East Dunbartonshire Council meeting which will decide the fate of primaries across the region.

It is not yet known how the Labour and Tory councillors will vote, but if the LibDems vote with the SNP and independents, any option they vote for or against would be carried.

In his letter, Councillor Moody states: “My LibDem colleagues and I have listened to what residents have told us in the consultation, at our surgeries and on the doorstep.

“Many people have strong views on the changes that have been proposed for Bearsden, Castlehill, Colquhon Park and Westerton primary schools, so I wanted to take the earliest possible opportunity

to report back on these important issues.

“The great majority made it very clear that Bearsden Primary should remain where it is. They felt and I agree that Bearsden Primary is an integral part of the community.

“LibDem councillors made it clear they could not support moving Bearsden Primary. Therefore it has been dropped.

“The two options of merging on either the Westerton Hall and library site or the Colquhoun Park Primary site generated a large response.

“Generally the view is that a new merged school would occupy more than just the hall and library at Westerton, the site at Colquhoun Park is on the edge of the Joint catchment area and that the new school would be too large.

“I understand that proposals from the community may come forward with a new smaller merged school or a refurbished and extended school on the Westerton Primary site.

“The option of siting a merged school on Westerton Hall and library has been dropped.

“A new option of a smaller merged school on the Westerton Primary school site will be brought forward. This new option should go to informal consultation later this year, which after taking account of local residents’ views, may then go to statutory consultation.

However, bombshell plans to axe Colquhoun Park - and the announcement ahead of next Wednesday’s meeting - have angered parents.

Sarah Douglas said: “By issuing this letter before any decision is supposed to be taken, due proces has not been followed. We will be looking at the legal implications of this

A statement on the Save Bearsden Primary website reads: “The Save Bearsden Primary Campaign has been informed by LibDem councillors that the option of merging Bearsden Primary School and Castlehill Primary School has not been supported by LibDem Councillors and has therefore been dropped.

“The Save Bearsden Primary Campaign would like to thank everyone who took the time to engage in the PSIP Consultation by completing the PSIP Questionnaire, everyone who contacted their own and other EDC Councillors, who attended Councillor surgeries and those who asked questions of both Councillors and EDC Officials.

“We would also like to thank our all our local councillors, LibDem, SNP, Labour and Independent who took the time to engage with their electorate, listen and help.

“We would also like to thank Jo Swinson MP and the Bearsden North Community Council.

We look forward to working with all our local EDC councillors to support Bearsden Primary in a refurbishment so continues to provide fantastic educational and community benefits at the heart of Bearsden Cross for generations to come.”

Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Councillor Ashay Ghai, said: “While final decisions will only be taken at the special meeting of the council on March 27, I and my fellow LibDems on the council are happy with the recommendations proposed.

“I can confirm then that we will support the council report which has been produced in partnership with our administration colleagues.”