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The truths they don't want you to read....

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

School closures (or not)

As I predicted some of the school closures have been called in, and as I also predicted, the terms of the call in are vague and offer little hope to the campaigners.

Look at the thrusting leadership from the Minister:
Mr Russell said closures must always be taken by those with the best knowledge of local circumstances.
But he added: "My role is not to retake a democratically-taken decision but to ensure that a robust consultation process was properly followed and the educational benefits of these decisions are clear."
In other words, look at the process again and have another vote before coming to a decision.  No threat or promise of a veto, just a series of iterations of the consultations until they are acceptable to the Minister.  Acceptable process that is. 

And this is likely to happen just before the Holyrood elections, if my timetable is right.

This would give the Council the opportunity to give a good kicking to the MSP for his failure to engage in the process, and his support of the SNP ahead of the best interests of the Western Isles on a number of issues.

Which will be fun to observe.

But let us again stand back on this whole issue and look at the calamitous failure to have a rural policy that delivers anything.

The new schools were given the go ahead only on the back of the Council finding it's share of the funding gap by closing a series of schools.  This was approved by the Minister, and all the funding was calculated, approved, paid and celebrated in numerous Government press releases over the past 5 years.

Now the Government is trying to backtrack on the implications of its decision when it realises what it has done.  Only to find that it doesn't actually have the power to stop what it has set in train.  Only delay it slightly.

And when you look at specific areas, you will see that the West Harris Trust have received large sums of Government money to buy the estate and develop the area.  All acclaimed by large and numerous Government press releases.  A large part of the rationale behind the buyout was the retention of children, at Sheilibost School, to grow the population in the area.  A school that the Government has already tacitly agreed must close to justify the new school in Tarbert.

Ooops, anyone see the logic in what is being done?

Actually, I think that Sheilibost might just survive because the buy-out having happened so recently, but I'm not holding my breath.

Now, would anyone like to remind us what the MP and MSP promised us about education provision in the islands and in the rural communities?

(I would normally, but I'm away and haven't got the time at the moment)


Anonymous said...

"Close them!"

"Open them!"

"Close them schools!!"

Well, afterall it is panto season!!

Anonymous said...

The press release from Edinburgh makes it clear that the Council have not made a clear case that there would be any educational benefit in closing Shawbost or Lionel. The other two school had high profile campaigns, which is why they were called in, but as the case has not been made on educational grounds then they will probably close. The Council will fight on and as they have won the educational argument in the primary schools, the community aspect will be easier to "resolve".

Anonymous said...

Can the Comhairle get anthing right? Once again their army of lawyers have let them down!

Anonymous said...

Wonder if they remembered to take any notes?

Anonymous said...

11.06 is talking utter balderdash and anyone with an ounce of political perception can see that this is purely an electioneering ploy by the SNP and which will yet cause them great embarrassment! Lets hope it does so in time to save us from another 4 years of fanciful shenanigans!

Anonymous said...

Why does our council fume over such things?

They continue to take decisions with extreme arrogance (Schools, Wind Factories, Town Halls ...)such that a proper consultation process is not undertaken. Any objections are ignored and they arrogantly pursue their own objectives, and 10:42 is probably right that they don't document their arrogance or any legal advice that opposes their view.

Thankfully we have some people in Holyrood that are prepared to turn round and tell them, diplomatically, how stupid they have been and to go and do things properly.

Oh, and by the way why not try to listen to what the reasonable objections are whilst you're at it.

Cuts are unavoidable, but cut out the stupidity first, a load of councillors second, and then evaluate the real costs of services.

Generating all that hot air on Sandwick Road is bad for the environment.

Anonymous said...

Angus has it spot on where Able Allan is coming from. Play lip service to the voter and back the horses each way. Stay open he claims the day as he knows the Council were mugged into funding the gap in new school build by savings from closures as directed by SNP SG.
Agree closure then he claims he did his best but it was out of his hands and respects SG faultless scrutiny of process but New Schools were the driver. His input into proposing a solution for both to go ahead .... dream on.

Roddy the Dog said...

Seem's the weather can close schools without consultation!
Should the council take notes?
Or is it a message from God!

Anonymous said...

Surprised that you haven't mentioned Daliburgh School and the fact that no-one on the Islands has been given the chance to tender for it. Apparently our "leader" commented that our local builders had been given enough work through the council and they didn't deserve any more...

MadEddieH said...

All the local construction firms did have the chance to tender for daliburgh as it was part of the overall schools project.