A great day for Abronhill; a great day for Cumbernauld

Written by Scott Campbell. Scott Campbell
Published at 20:06 on 14 March 2014.
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“THE bitter battle to save Abronhill High School from council closure plans has taken a dramatic turn,” my article reads; a dramatic turn from the former loud and brash tactics adopted by Abronhill residents, as they screamed at Motherwell bureaucrats, to save their school, to a sheer deafening silence exhibited by the same group.

Today I broke the news through Cumbernauld Media that the Save Abronhill High School campaign had managed to muster 800 call-in requests, a fantastic number when you consider the time which they had.

The legislation – from the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010, makes it transparent that any representation has three weeks to be exhibited, between the council’s decision and the deadline for representation. However, after a lot of hard work and planning, the Working Group had days to get people scribbling furiously to Mike Russell MSP, Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning.

Not too bad then, when you consider the time and effort made by the people heading up the campaign to save Abronhill High School from the council’s wielding axe. They came in with only days on the clock to ensure that locals handed the second highest amount of representations, to the Scottish Government; requesting a call-in over the council’s decision to shut Abronhill High School, next year.

It all makes me very proud that a community, who North Lanarkshire Council had written off, according to my friends at the authority’s Motherwell base, stood up and said ‘NO!’

The actions of the written-off ‘Hill is a testimonial example to other communities, actions which take my mind back to 4th June, 1989; a day when the Chinese military violently suppressed peaceful protesters at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. On that day, one solemn student, known simply as ‘Tank Man’ stood alone in front of a line of People’s Liberation Army tanks. He stopped them in their tracks. Bravery and victory through patience, peaceful protest and solidarity.

I have my fingers crossed for the valiant people of Abronhill who have taken on the Motherwell monster; having to rapidly learn council process, rules, Scots law and the jargon of bureaucracy, or the ‘language of politics’.

I really do hope that their efforts are rewarded by 19th March, when the Scottish Government will either call-in the council’s plans, allow the plans to proceed or place conditions on the school’s closure. There are too many arguments against the closure, not to mention the mess of a way in which our local authority went about announcing, consulting and voting upon their proposals.

However, as I draw this piece to a close; eating my macaroni cheese and watching Top Gear, on BBC Three, I am minded to quote the great man, Abraham Lincoln.

A man of great intellect and insight, Lincoln was ahead of his time. However, this isn’t his biography. I simply mention him in passing as I wish to refer to a legendary quote by the Honourable Lincoln.

On June 17th, 1858, in Springfield, Illinois, after accepting the Illinois Republican Party's nomination as that state's United States senator, Lincoln said: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” His words resonate even today and have a strong relation with the battle to save Abronhill High School from closure.

Abronhill has never been closer. North Lanarkshire Council’s plans to ‘divide and conquer’, in an effort to push through their proposals has failed. However, on the positive side, Abronhill has found new friendships. Neighbours met and became allies through campaigning whilst ripples were echoed right through Scotland that Cumbernauld isn’t just a stupid wee town; otherwise people wouldn’t know the answer to the question – ‘WHAT’S IT CALLED?’

Let’s keep going – a near record in the Government’s eyes, a record in community participation and a record in community awareness, belief and spirit. What’s it called? Cumbernauld – you’re damn right!