Mothballed schools plea

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A councillor has pleaded for Argyll and Bute Council to do all it can to keep three mothballed Oban, Lorn and the Isles primary schools open.

Kilchrenan primary was mothballed in February, joining a list which already includes the primary schools at Achaleven and Luing.

And after a report showed zero pupils at Achaleven and Luing, Oban North and Lorn SNP councillor Julie McKenzie appealed to council officials to look at more than the data.

Acting education manager Sandra Clarke said parents would be given the chance to talk to the authority before any decision was taken.

The discussion took place at a meeting of the council’s Oban, Lorn and the Isles area committee on Wednesday June 15.

Councillor McKenzie said: ‘It is really important we look behind the data we receive as councillors. What that table gives me is an example of where we are, seeing mothballed schools with rolls showing zero.

‘That does not reflect the position, because there are children in those schools’ communities. Luing is one example, because it is causing quite a lot of distress and worry at the moment.

‘There is definitely a will demonstrated in the community in Luing. They really do wish to keep Luing Primary School open if they can.

‘I would ask that, if possible, the school is made available to the community for use as soon as possible.

‘I was on the community services committee which mothballed Kilchrenan Primary School. Members at the time did not have any information. That came to us on the day when we asked questions as part of the decision-making process.

‘What is clear to me is that the wider community was not consulted on that. That is somewhere we were remiss and hopefully in the future we will learn from that and consultation does not just touch on parents and families in the school.

‘The wider community has a massive interest and I am planning to work with the community of Kilchrenan, so it would be good to speak to education about that.

‘I am also hearing from Achaleven that a number of parents in the community of Connel would like to see their children educated there.

‘So behind the data, I think there is real optimism in these communities and I want reassurance from the education department that we will do all we can to keep these schools open.’

Ms Clarke replied: ‘I had a constructive but passionate meeting with the community [of Luing]. They are fantastic and were very keen the school should be used.

‘We could not hold a pre-consultation meeting within the school because it was deemed unsuitable to have members of the public there at the time.

‘The options are to continue to mothball, re-open or close and it is my job to give community services all of the information they need.

‘I will get in touch with my colleague who is doing the paper and ask them to get in touch with you.

‘Officially, the authority does not have to consult on mothballing as it is a temporary measure, but it is good practice to do so.

‘I am familiar with the area of Achaleven and those parents will get the same opportunity Luing had. It is good for us to listen to them.’