St Joseph’s parents’ warning to Labour Party

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St Joseph’s Primary parents have warned the Labour Party: forget about winning East Dunbartonshire if your councillors close our school.

Campaigners fighting to save Milngavie’s only Catholic school staged a protest outside the Labour conference in Perth recently.

The Labour/Tory/LibDem coalition led East Dunbartonshire Council is studying the results of its consultation on proposals to close St Joseph’s and transport the children in buses to a new school in Bearsden on the current St Andrew’s Primary School site, which will cost £72,000.

Parents told Labour polititians that if closure goes ahead the backlash against them locally will be such that they can forget about winning the marginal East Dunbartonshire seat at the next Westminster elections.

Over 1,500 people have signed a petition to save the school and an overwhelming majority of responses to the consultation are opposed to the closure.

At Labour’s Scottish conference, they put their concerns to former Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy MP.

Mr Murphy made a point of coming out of the conference hall to speak with parents and children to hear their concerns.

Campaigners also talked to East Dunbartonshire leader Rhondda Geekie and her colleagues Provost Una Walker and Councillor Alan Moir at the event.

Parents have urged the council to consider alternative options such as a shared campus with a non-denominational school in Milngavie or a community hub.

St Joseph’s parent, Paula Spiers, said: We decided to lobby the Labour conference because we want our local councillors to stand up for our community and engage with us on alternatives.

“It is unbelieveable that we are being targeted for closure when our roll has increased by 26 per cent in the past three years.

“Our school is also well used by other community organisations, such as the Time Out after-school club, which provides wrap around care for children across Milngavie, and the non-denominational St Joseph’s nursery.

“Milngavie will lose all these vital services if St Joseph’s closes and I can predict now that the Labour party will fail to win back East Dunbartonshire at the next election.”

Clydebank and Milngavie Labour Party member Jackie McMonagle said: “I was really pleased to meet with the group from St Joseph’s and I know their efforts made a real impact.

“The parents and pupils deserve enormous credit for fighting a brilliant campaign that has energised the whole community.

“I am convinced that St Joseph’s belongs in Milngavie.

“Closing the school would have an enormous impact for young children, parents, staff and all the local community and it is impossible for East Dunbartonshire Council to ignore such strong feeling.”

Council leader Rhondda Geekie said: “The overall savings available to the council from this proposal are £338,000.

“Even taking into account the additional cost of transporting the pupils to Bearsden the overall savings are still £266,000 a year.

“The council believes there is a significant educational benefit to these young people in Bearsden and Milngavie from the improved educational environment that is being offered through these proposals.”