Save Abronhill High School campaigners hand in their Ministerial Call-in request
Written by Scott Campbell.
 
 
Published at 22:13 GMT on Tuesday 26th February, 2013.
Picture is copyright of Scott Campbell/ Cumbernauld Media.
 
CAMPAIGNERS battling to save Abronhill High School have taken their case to the Scottish Government; appealing to Mike Russell MSP, Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning, for a Ministerial call-in over the council’s decision to close the Gregory’s Girl school, next year.
 
Assembling outside the Scottish Parliament, current pupils, ex-pupils, local residents and parents turned out to present the Scottish Government with the Save Abronhill High School Campaign’s official ‘Request to Scottish Ministers for Call In’ appeal.
 
The actions of the campaign group follow a decision taken by North Lanarkshire Council, on Wednesday 6th February, 2013, to close B-rated Abronhill High School next year; moving the staff and students to C-rated Cumbernauld High School, whilst the Cumbernauld High School premises becomes a construction site for the next few years.
 
As part of the Call-in process, the Scottish Government Ministers will announce within three weeks’ time whether they have decided to call-in North Lanarkshire Council’s decision. Following this, the Scottish Government can either refuse the council consent for the plans to go through; secondly, the Scottish Government can fully support the authority’s plans; and, thirdly, the Scottish Government can allow the plans to go through, with additional conditions, at the Minister’s discretion.
 
Picture is copyright of Scott Campbell/ Cumbernauld Media.
 
The Save Abronhill High School campaign’s Call-in request document, in its twenty-page entirety discusses a number of issues which throw the council’s plans into disarray; issues including the Learning and Leisure Services report which, failed to answer all of the matters arising from the council’s proposals – a statutory obligation; the detrimental impact on the education of young people and the impact on the pupils within the Language & Communications Support Centre – issues which were both raised in HMie’s own report;  the travel arrangements for pupils travelling to Cumbernauld High, from Abronhill; the effect on the community and economy of Abronhill; financial errors or issues arising from the council’s own figures; and, equality considerations. The formal Call-in request goes into depth on each of these topics as well as a number of other issues which continue to plague the council’s plans.
 
Following the group’s meeting at the Scottish Parliament, the campaigners set off to Victoria Quay, where they formally handed over their request.
 
 
Commenting on the day’s events, Save Abronhill High School campaign spokeswoman Lynn Hutcheson said: “Today is the result of months of campaigning by the community of Abronhill against the closure of Abronhill High School.
 
“From the start this was a community campaign supported by young and old; pupils, parents and grandparents; residents and many ex-pupils that have moved away; and many supporters elsewhere in Cumbernauld, and beyond. Thank you to the hundreds of people that have taken part and keep fighting on; supporting our efforts taking it to the media, politicians and worldwide audience.
 
“We would hope that the Scottish Government would see the issues in the council’s plans as transparently as we do.”
 
Picture is copyright of Scott Campbell/ Cumbernauld Media.
 
Campaigners were joined at the day’s proceedings by Cumbernauld and Kilsyth SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn and SNP Councillor, Liz Irvine, who represents the Abronhill, Kildrum and The Village ward –where both schools are located.
 
“Obviously, we would have hoped not to have been in this position and that North Lanarkshire Council would have shown some respect for local democracy,” Lynn added.
 
“Unfortunately, that is a luxury that is not afforded to Cumbernauld and we’ve had to come to the Scottish Government to protect the community and economy of Abronhill, as well as the education of pupils at both campuses.”
 
Commenting, SNP MSP for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth, Jamie Hepburn said: “The Save Abronhill High School campaigners have ran a strong and well thought out campaign against the school closure and with their request for the Scottish Ministers to call-in the decision by North Lanarkshire Council to close the school, are continuing to do so.
 
“I have already sent off my own letter requesting a Ministerial call-in and I believe that the fact that Education Scotland have stated that there is no educational benefit in the Council’s proposal, there is a strong case for a Ministerial call-in."
 
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