Abronhill campaigners point to statistics which reveal the "hypocritical" nature of North Lanarkshire Council
Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 00:53 GMT on Monday 4th February, 2013.
Picture is copyright of Save Abronhill High School Campaign.

CAMPAIGNERS vying to save Abronhill High School have been publically sharing council figures, which add yet more controversy to North Lanarkshire Council's proposals to close Abronhill High School and move its staff and student populous to Cumbernauld High School, in another part of the town.

The figures show a lack of coherence and consistency in the council’s primus for closing Abronhill High, in addition to eliciting yet more North Lanarkshire Council bias against Cumbernauld – the authority’s largest town.

According to the data, Abronhill has a population of approximately 8,000; the area’s high school has 56% occupancy and is classed as a B in condition and suitability. By contrast, Bellshill Academy has an approximate area population of 8,000, with 58% occupancy and is graded as a C in both condition and suitability. Calderhead High School, in Shotts, on the other hand has a catchment similar to both Abronhill High and Bellshill Academy, but is graded as an A in condition and suitability, with only 52% occupancy.

“One of the main reasons for closing Abronhill High School, in the council’s mind, was the issue of occupancy,” said Scott Campbell, a spokesman for the Save Abronhill High School campaign.

“These figures completely blow this argument out of the water,” he added.

“Closing Abronhill High, with 56% occupancy, whilst allowing Calderhead High to continue with 52% occupancy is simply hypocritical of the council.”

Calderhead High School was opened last year, by North Lanarkshire Provost Jim Robertson, after a £21million rebuild. However, the school and council have been criticised as the building has 52 per cent occupancy, a figure which is due to fall over the coming years.

The figures also reveal council bias towards Cumbernauld.

Data shows that Cumbernauld, with a near 50,000 population has three non-denominational high schools (Abronhill, Cumbernauld and Greenfaulds); Motherwell, with a population of near enough 30,000 also has three non-denominational schools (Dalziel, Brannock and Braidhurst), whilst Wishaw has two (Coltness and Clyde Valley), with an average town population of 20,000.

“We see from this information, yet another example of the council taking from Cumbernauld to fatten up other North Lanarkshire Council run towns, mainly Motherwell,” Scott added.

“It’s a disgrace that the council would consider closing its second best performing high school for 3 or more Highers and providing the equivalent educational services to Cumbernauld as it does with Wishaw – a town with less than half the population of Cumbernauld.”  

The comments from the Save Abronhill High School campaign come after North Lanarkshire Council published its recommendations on the future of Abronhill High.

Within the eighty-five page report the council concedes that there was mass opposition and recommends that Abronhill High still closes, but in autumn 2014, rather than in four months’ time.

Despite the recommendations, however, campaigners have warned the council that the fight will go on and that a Ministerial Call-in will be requested should the 6th February Learning and Leisure Services committee decide to vote in favour of a closure.

“The fight will go on ‘til the very end,” stressed Scott. “We will not allow local democracy to be trampled over and moreover, we will not let Cumbernauld be second best again.

“Our town was promised a rebuild of Cumbernauld High School, regardless of these proposals and we will continue to fully support campaigners on that matter as well as continue to fight against closure and for an Abronhill high improvement programme – even if we have to get the Scottish Government in to make the council do it.”
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