Parents campaigning to save Milngavie’s only Catholic school are urging the council to recognise the community’s moral right to the school site.
East Dunbartonshire Council wants to close St Joseph’s Primary School in Milngavie and create a new merged Catholic primary school.
It would be built on the current St Andrew’s Primary School site on Duntocher Road, in Bearsden.
The original St Joseph’s Primary School was built on land that was owned by the Catholic Church with money that was raised by parishioners in Milngavie.
Parents say that if East Dunbartonshire Council is no longer prepared to deliver Catholic education in Milngavie then the school buildings and site should be given back to the community.
The Community Empowerment Bill that was passed by the Scottish Parliament in June gives communities more powers to take on land and buildings.
It means East Dunbartonshire Council has a legal duty to consider the benefits of transferring the St Joseph’s site to the community.
St Joseph’s Parent Council, which wants to make St Joseph’s the first community-led school in Scotland, has already held talks with othergroups in Milngavie who use the site.
Helen Williams, St Joseph’s Parent Council vice-chair, said: “St Joseph’s Primary School is a vital community asset and we want to make sure that it continues to be used for the benefit of everyone inMilngavie.
“It is terrible that the only partnership nursery in Milngavie and groups like the Karate Club would also be made homeless if St Joseph’s was closed.
“Councillors in other areas have told us that they wouldn’t allow this to happen on their patch.
“The Community Empowerment Bill means that East Dunbartonshire Council has a legal obligation to consider our request for the land andbuildings to be transferred to the community and they need to start engaging with us.
“We believe that our proposal for a community-led school is a win-win for everyone in Milngavie. For example, Milngavie Boys Club are currently forced to play ‘home’ games in Westerton, Bearsden, because there aren’t enough football pitches in Milngavie.
“This is an obvious example of where East Dunbartonshire Council is failing our community and we could work together to improve facilities.
“We’d like to hear from other community groups who are interested in getting involved. Please email: St.firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Gordon Currie, the council’s director of education and children’s services, said: “The current St Joseph’s Primary School is due to close in 2018. The schoolbuildings and grounds, which were purchased and funded by Dumbarton County Council in the 1950s, will then be made available for alternative uses. The council has committed to working with groups that currently use the school to find suitable alternative accommodation. It is important that the views of the community are considered in the future use of the site. The council will comply fully with the requirements of the Community Empowerment legislation.”