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Abronhill high campaign in limbo as Scottish Government hold off decision, following court battle

Written by Scott Campbell.
Published at 14:41 GMT on Friday, June 21st, 2013.

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Sources say government delay is because of Western Isles court case. Image is copyright of Scott Campbell/ Cumbernauld Media.

NORTH Lanarkshire Council appear to be getting anxious as the months drag on as the call-in of council plans to close Abronhill High School, next year, continues.

The Scottish Government called in North Lanarkshire Council’s plans to rationalise Abronhill and Cumbernauld high schools on 19th March, 2013 after the local authority backed the proposals at a special council meeting on February 6th.

The decision to approve the proposals was described as a “dark day for local democracy” by those involved with the Save Abronhill high school campaign, who have now had the longest wait between call-in and the announcement of a final conclusion, since the Scottish Government were given powers to call-in closure proposals by the passing of the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010.

The wait, however, appears to be beyond politics and could be likened to controversial plans to shut schools on the Western Isles, which were given the go ahead after a legal challenge by the Scottish Government failed. 

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar planned to shut Carloway Primary and end S1 and 2 provision at Shawbost two years ago. However, Ministers opposed the plans and rejected the closures, which led to a judicial review; finding in favour of the local authority, which led to an appeal by the Scottish Government.

On May 31st, the appeal failed and the education authority was able to precede with their original closure proposals, which received less media coverage than the bitter battle between Abronhill and North Lanarkshire Council, to stop the rationalisation proposals being pursued by the authority. 

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The failed appeal has left the Scottish Government with a bloody nose, which has forced the government to look back on all past decisions and scrutinise every letter and full stop of North Lanarkshire Council’s plans for Abronhill and Cumbernauld High Schools, sources have told Cumbernauld Media. 

Campaigners battling to save Abronhill high school had previously worried that the delay was down to political football, although North Lanarkshire Council’s continued threats of legal action has appeared to rock the confidence of the Scottish Government, postponing any early announcement of the Scottish Government’s final decision on the fate of Abronhill high school.

Nonetheless, North Lanarkshire Council have branded the delay “farcical”, with North Lanarkshire Council’s Learning and Leisure Services committee, Cllr Jim Logue telling the Cumbernauld News that after a three month delay, the council and community are, “still in the exact same situation”.

Cllr Logue added: “A number of elected members from Cumbernauld have been asking me what the situation as have many members of the school community. But the fact is we’re at a loss as we have had no information back.”

Responding to Cllr Logue’s comments, a Save Abronhill High School campaign spokesman welcomed the delay, telling the Cumbernauld News: “There has been an unprecedented response from the community to North Lanarkshire Council’s plans as well as a damning report from Education Scotland. We are pleased that the Scottish Government is taking its time to review this decision.”

Commenting, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scottish Ministers have called in North Lanarkshire Council’s proposal relating to the rationalisation of Abronhill and Cumbernauld High Schools into a single school for further investigation, under the Schools (Consultation) Scotland) Act 2010. This process is still ongoing and it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

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