Pro-school campaign plans next steps
The Argyll Rural Schools Network (ARSN) met with representatives of Argyll & Bute Council’s three opposition groups in Inveraray on Sunday (5th June) to discuss the next steps in their campaign to protect the rural schools and communities of Argyll and Bute.
Concerns were expressed regarding the Council’s slow response to Education Secretary Michael Russell’s request to halt the school closure process to enable the formation of a Commission to review the delivery of rural education. ARSN, MSPs from all of the major parties and councillors opposed to the school closure have all welcomed Mr Russell’s intervention and it is disappointing that the Council have not yet agreed to the moratorium.
The potential for collaboration between ARSN and opposition groups for the 2012 Council elections was also discussed. ARSN aims to identify and support pro-school candidates standing for each of the thirty-six Council seats and will work with the opposition groups to determine where ARSN’s resources will be best deployed. An ARSN spokesperson stated, “We want communities to have a clear choice at the 2012 elections so that they can elect a Council that will never again threaten Argyll’s rural communities with forced closures of rural schools.”
Councillor George Freeman, Leader of the Argyll & Bute Independent Councillors Group stated: “I welcomed the opportunity to attend this ARSN meeting which was very constructive and now look forward to working closely with them in identifying candidates in the run up to the 2012 local authority elections”.
Councillor Anne Horn, representing the SNP Group, said, “The meeting with ARSN was very positive and I would urge the Council Administration to drop their school closure proposals in light of the proposal by the Cabinet Secretary to establish a Commission on Delivery of Rural Education. I will continue to work with ARSN to support local schools in our rural communities.”
A separate meeting of the Council’s ruling coalition was later reported to have agreed to continue with the consultation, despite concerns raised by several of their councillors. The ARSN spokesperson said, “It beggars belief that Argyll and Bute Council are going to continue wasting money on this process. The only sensible decision is to end the consultations immediately and work with the Commission to build a better future for rurals schools and communities.”