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FOI shows council officials met in the canteen to discuss the safety of Abronhill to Cumbernauld High walking routes

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 21:26 GMT on Wednesday 20th March, 2013.

AN INTERNAL North Lanarkshire Council memo has been passed to Cumbernauld Media and its contents show how council officials met at the “canteen” before “going on leave” to consider the safety of walking routes between Abronhill and Cumbernauld High School.

Cumbernauld Media was handed the document late last week, as the Scottish Government prepared to announce whether or not they would call-in the council’s plans to amalgamate Abronhill and Cumbernauld High Schools, next year. 

The Scottish Government announced yesterday (19th March) that they would call-in the authority’s plans, for further scrutiny, a move welcomed by Cumbernauld and Kilsyth SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn but detested by the council’s Jim Logue, chair of the Learning and Leisure Services committee, who told Cumbernauld Media that the Government were being “dictorial” and that they would reserve legal action as a last resort. 

Since the announcement by the Scottish Government and the rebuttal by the area’s local authority, many residents have expressed both joy and anger; joy at the Government’s announcement and anger at the council’s comments, often exhibited through social media website Facebook.

Now, though, Cumbernauld Media can reveal a dossier of e-mails and reports which assess the safety of the common walking routes between Abronhill and Cumbernauld High Schools. 

The document instructs council officials to follow eight walking routes – all of which are deemed as “satisfactory” as a walking route between both schools. 

However, despite the passing grade, a number of faults were identified, mainly with broken lights, cracked pavements; bridge railings and overgrown trees. 

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The first walking route assessment is dated December 2012, with a secondary follow-up assessment in January, this year. 

Online residents had been speculating about the existence of the report; claiming that they had seen council officials walking part of the route. Now, though, Cumbernauld Media can reveal that these rumours are true. At the start of the report the council’s Head of Roads and Transportation, Graham MacKay says: “It should be noted that the assessment was undertaken by two members of staff due to the footpaths being remote from the road and having limited overlooking properties.”

Local campaigners, involved with the Save Abronhill High School, have told Cumbernauld Media – off the record that this attitude is “hypocritical”, with the “poor language” exhibited throughout the “disgraceful” document. 

Later in the document, a number of e-mails further the case of the campaigners, with one council official e-mailing another, asking: “Given that Cumbernauld is a pedestrianised town, what would be your opinion of the need to have the walking routes, from the points already assessed, assessed as appropriate walking routes. That maybe sounds a bit convoluted but I am assuming that all the paths in Abronhill are acceptable walking routes.”

Another e-mail enquires as to the completion of the walking routes assessment. It reads: “Are you able to let us know when your assessment will be carried out in Abronhill? Will it be completed before 15th? Weather permitted?”

Cumbernauld Media’s Save Abronhill High School campaign sources have told us that, “claiming the route to be safe whilst recognising the lack of nearby properties and far from roads” is “hypocritical” of the council. Whilst, another person said that the quote of “Weather permitted?” is “a disgrace”, as the council “expects our kids to walk this route in all weathers”. Whilst, the individual who forwarded me this document told me:  “It seems that they tried to give the route the once over from a distance, not having walked it.” 

Cumbernauld Media can also reveal that whilst campaigners, in Cumbernauld, were battling to save one of their local high schools from the chopping block, council officials were meeting up for lunch; a lunch where the future of Abronhill High was on the menu. 

An e-mail from one council official to another, on 20th December asks: “How about we meet in the canteen then we have a table and seat to make it easier to look at?” No response to the question can be viewed in the leaked report, although a later e-mail exchange exclaims how one council official gave the memo to another council official, “to sing”.  

North Lanarkshire Council were offered the chance to respond to our questions about the document and the points raised by the campaigners. No response was provided. 

View the document below.

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