MP Jo Swinson in bid for school surgeries

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MP JO SWINSON has urged East Dunbartonshire Council to relinquish their control of school surgeries by passing the responsibility to headteachers.

Earlier this month, Ms Swinson was blocked by the council from holding a constituent meeting for school children at Lenzie Academy.

In response, the council defended its action in a move to ‘minimise any additional burdens’ on schools.

However, Ms Swinson has challenged the authority’s ‘heavy-handed’ decision.

She said: “The council’s decision to ban surgeries in schools is simply unacceptable, and their argument that they constitute a ‘burden’ is unreasonable.

“What is particularly heavy-handed is the council dictating to headteachers by forbidding them to allow such a surgery, even if the schools wish to do so.

“In East Dunbartonshire we have talented and dedicated headteachers who are more than capable of running schools effectively without this level of interference.

“If they are serious about not wishing to burden schools then perhaps the council should let headteachers get on with their jobs.

“If headteachers had more freedom to run their schools in the first place, organising small events like this in schools would cease to be operational ‘burdens’ for the council’s bureaucracy.”

Ms Swinson has already contacted the council about her appeal in the hope that will reverse their position.

In a letter to officials, she highlighted the need for the schools’ input if they are to gain an insight into what is best for pupils.

She said: “Surely it should be up to schools to decide for themselves. I have no problem if a school tells me they are unable to facilitate a school surgery, though in reality the organisational task is small.

“What is proposed is making a room in the school available at lunchtime, and informing pupils that their MP is there should they wish to raise any issues.

“As I am suggesting doing this once per secondary school per year, even if all of other elected representatives were to follow suit, the overall burden would be minimal.

“School surgeries, such as I have been able to do in the past, have been a very valuable exercise as many young people simply do not feel comfortable attending the usual MP surgeries.

“Giving pupils the opportunity to do so on territory that is familiar to them, explicitly for them and convenient is a positive way to promote citizenship.”

A spokesperson for East Dunbartonshire Council said: “We have discussed the suggestion that our young people may wish to attend the various surgeries arranged by the political representatives in the evenings and at weekends.”