BY Daniel Harkins | September 12 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

7-RAVENSCRAIG-DEMOLITION

Motherwell high school merge plan scrapped

North Lanarkshire Council have shelved plans to close and merge two Motherwell Catholic schools after months of protests from campaigning parents and criticism of the proposal from within the Church.

The council came under mounting pressure in recent weeks over their plans to close Taylor and Our Lady’s High—as well as Bothwellpark High, a school for those with additional needs—and merge them in a £36 million new-build on the site of the former Ravenscraig steelworks (above). The council was due to make a final decision on the plans at a meeting on Wednesday, but announced that the proposal would not be going forward following a meeting of the council’s Labour group. A statement from council and Labour group leader Jim McCabe confirmed the move and criticised ‘unnecessary interference’ from members of the clergy.

“The Labour administration has listened to the people and their overwhelming response to this merger proposal,” Mr McCabe said. “Having considered the consultation reports and the advice from officers, we are not satisfied that there are any educational benefits to be gained through this proposal and we therefore won’t be continuing with it.

“We will also be referring the matter of secondary school provision in the Motherwell district to the Schools and Centres 21 Committee and instruct them to engage in a comprehensive study of the school estate.

“Despite unnecessary interference and condemnation without consultation from Parliamentarians and members of the clergy, this is a properly considered decision taken by the Labour group. The matter will now be considered by the Learning and Leisure Services Committee and a meeting of the full council.”

A spokesperson for Motherwell Diocese said: “The Diocese of Motherwell welcomes the news announced by Councillor McCabe… that the Labour administration has listened to the significant concerns raised by local people, the Diocese of Motherwell and Education Scotland with regard to two of the proposed mergers impacting on the Catholic community in North Lanarkshire.

“The diocese welcomes Councillor McCabe’s acknowledgment that there is no educational benefit to be gained from the merger of two successful Catholic secondary schools, a key point made by the Diocese within its formal written response.

“The diocese will await the detail of the ‘better options’ for St Edward’s and St Dominic’s Primary schools in Airdrie and will, once again, engage in the formal consultation process to ensure the best provision for Catholic primary education in this area.

Parents had been concerned about the travelling distance to the new school as well as possible contamination of the land which was previously used by heavy industry, and questioned the financial motives behind the proposal.

Taking to social media after rumours first emerged of the council’s decision to scrap the plans on Monday night, campaigners expressed their joy at seeing their protests succeed. On Monday, hours before the council’s decision emerged, parents had gathered at Motherwell Civic Centre in a last push against the closure. Campaigner Tina Proven posted on the Save Our Lady’s High School Facebook page: “We only went and did it—we WON folks, it’s been rejected.”

 

— daniel@sconews.co.uk

 

— Read the full version of this story in Sept 12 edition of the SCO in parishes from Friday.

 

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