Proposal to remove threat to Milne’s High School is rejected

Councillor Douglas Ross

A move by Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor Douglas Ross that Moray Council pledge not to close Milne’s High School was rejected this morning.

Councillor Ross made the move during a meeting of the Full Council where a motion to spend £17million on improvements to four primary schools was passed.

The motion came after it emerged additional Scottish Government funding of £10million was available for school improvements in Moray – but proposals had to be made to Holyrood by the end of this week.

With £7million of funding being provided by the local authority, the cash will be used to improve primary school facilities at St Gerardines in Lossiemouth, Applegrove in Forres, Millbank in Buckie and Elgin’s Seafield.

At the outset of the debate Councillor Ross said: “The paper mentions Lossiemouth High School being the Council’s priority project for a future phase of Schools for the Future funding.

[box] “I believe that at a strategic level this council cannot and should not close secondary schools – I do not believe there has been or will be a case to do so.” – Douglas Ross[/box] “I believe and I think that the Save Milne’s High School group also believe that this is a change to the Sustainable Education Review. There is now another High School which cannot be closed under the Sustainable Education Review because we are going to spend up to £30million on Lossiemouth High.

“We have two High Schools in Elgin, one that has been replaced and one that is about to be replaced. Also Speyside High School has been excluded because of its geography.

“Therefore from a possible eight secondary schools we are already down to four, and the only one on the long list of ideas (which are not proposals) is Milne’s High School.

“I believe that at a strategic level this council cannot and should not close secondary schools – I do not believe there has been or will be a case to do so.

“Given the opportunity we have in this paper to endorse spending on Lossiemouth High School we should only do that if we decide today to end the uncertainty over the future of Milne’s High and remove it from the list of ideas for closure in the Sustainable Education Review.”

Councillor Ross’s amendment was seconded by Buckie councillor Joe Mackay and backed by Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor Margo Howe.

However, after hearing arguments from the leader of Moray Councillor, Allan Wright, and the spokesman on education for the SNP opposition, Mike Shand, that giving such an assurance would compromise the Sustainable Education Review the amendment was rejected.

At the outset of the debate the Labour councillor for Fochabers/Lhanbryde, Sean Morton, excused himself from the chamber for personal reasons, having previously stated his disagreement with the proposals ahead of the Sustainable Education Review being a member of the committee that is charged with considering the report from consultants.

Councillors voted by 21 votes to three that the spending on four primary schools should go ahead and that Lossiemouth High School should be named as the next priority for Scottish Government funding.

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