BY Ryan McDougall | November 15 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

4 bishops

Bishops’ Conference updated on council rep voting rights threat

The Scottish Catholic Education Service has revealed seven local authorities will not change the current role of Church representatives on education committees.

At a Bishops’ Conference of Scotland (BCOS) meeting held from November 4 – 6, Barbara Coupar, director of the Scottish Catholic Education Service (SCES) told bishops that North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Renfrewshire, West Dunbartonshire, Dundee, Argyll and Bute and Renfrewshire councils would not change or review Church representatives’ positions on committees.

The news comes as many Scottish councils propose reviewing the Catholic community’s voices from education committees.



Following the conference, Mrs Coupar said: “We are not surprised that some councils have indicated to our Church reps that they are not going to review their current working arrangements for education committees.

“The Church has a very positive and purposeful relationship with local authorities and the Church representatives are held in high regard due to their knowledge, participation and professional experience.

“It is good to hear that where councils have considered reviewing the voting rights of committee members that they are doing so in a positive and inclusive way, considering how to extend voting rights to others, such as parents, teachers an pupils — and not restricting the democratic process by removing rights.

“This clearly shows that councils are working to ensure the voice of the local community is not just heard, but that stakeholders are actively involved in decision making.”


East Ayrshire Council

East Ayrshire Council is the latest to come under fire from the Catholic Church in Scotland, after it was revealed the council had proposed to have Catholics’ voting rights on their education committee axed.

The proposal was spear-headed by the National Secular Society and the Humanist Society Scotland.

Mrs Coupar also revealed at the BCOS conference that the Humanist Society has contacted every local authority in Scotland for copies of the voting records of all representatives on council education committees.


‘Embittered perspectives’

A spokesperson for the Church said: “The Humanist Society opposes any religious body having a locus of any kind in public policy in spite of the evidence that such expertise benefits local government and the fact that legislation allows for it. Fortunately, their resentful and embittered perspectives are not widely shared.”

The Humanist Society Scotland confirmed they contacted councils in response to the decision by Perth and Kinross council to remove voting rights from religious representatives.

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