Plans to close primary have 'passed first test'

A SCOTTISH Government decision has given hope to council bosses that plans to shut a Catholic primary school may go ahead.

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Protests were held in a bid to stop the closure of St Joseph's
Protests were held in a bid to stop the closure of St Joseph's

Last month, ministers announced they would review East Dunbartonshire Coun-cil's decision to close Miln-gavie's only Catholic school, St Joseph's.

The move came after intense pressure from parents battling to save the primary from plans that would see it and nearby St Andrew's, in Bearsden, shut.

The council's plans must be given consent under two separate pieces of legislation.

Ministers have now written to the council to say the scheme has passed the first scrutiny process. They say consent under the Education Act 1980 is not required for the closure of St Andrew's Primary and St Joseph's Primary.

This is a separate process from that required under the Schools Consultation Act 2010.

Confirmation that consent is not required was received by the council this week.

Following concerns raised by the Catholic Church regarding the availability of Catholic education as a result of the school closures, the council referred the proposal to Ministers for consideration under the Education Act 1980.

Ministers have now confirmed they believe the closure would not represent "a significant deterioration in the provision, distribution or availability" of Roman Catholic education in the area.

They therefore confirm that consent for the closures under the Education Act 1980 is not required.

However, the "call-in" scrutiny over plans to shut the two schools and build a new £9million primary on the St Andrew's site is still on going.

Council Leader Rhondda Geekie said: "We firmly believe that our proposals to close St Andrew's in Bearsden and St Joseph's in Milngavie to build a new primary school on the St Andrew's site demons-trates our commitment to delivering Catholic education in the area.

"I am pleased that Ministers have confirmed that they do not believe this represents a deterioration in Catholic education provision."

Despite the move by ministers, parents say they still have hope that the Government "call-in" will save their school.

Campaigner Andrew McFaddyen said: "East Dunbartonshire Council is clutching at straws if it thinks this means there is hope for the decision not to be reversed."

catriona.stewart@eveningtimes.co.uk

Education

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