School campaigners to fight on after ‘reassurance’ bid rejection

Save Milne’s High campaign to fight on

The community campaign to retain Milne’s High School will continue despite the refusal of Councillors to put an end to uncertainty over its future.

That was the pledge being made after a bid by Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor Douglas Ross to end speculation over the future of the school failed in the council chamber on Wednesday.

Councillors took the decision to use £10million of Scottish Government cash to help pay for a £17million refurbishment at four primary schools in Forres, Elgin, Lossiemouth and Buckie.

They also paved the way for Lossiemouth High School to be rebuilt at a cost of around £30million by informing the Scottish Future’s Trust that it was Moray’s main priority for any future funding.

The decision came at a time when the local authority still awaits a full report from consultants on the Sustainable Education Review (SER) – sparking claims that they had already made up their minds before that report had been fully considered.

Milne’s High School in Fochabers was named by consultants in an earlier report as the only secondary school in Moray that could be closed. That sparked the formation of the Save Milne’s High School group who feared for the future of the school despite repeated assurances from councillors that no decisions had been taken.

Prior to the meeting Fochabers/Lhanbryde labour councillor Sean Morton made it clear that he would not take part in any debate that discussed funding for schools before the SER had been decided.

[box] “Other Councillors have a different opinion to me and that’s the nature of democracy” – Councillor Sean Morton[/box] Councillor Morton, who serves on the cross-party committee considering the SER proposals, said: “At the start of this review process, I spoke to parent after parent and promised them that all options were on the table and that no schools would be treated any more favourably than others.

“I can only do what I think is right and I didn’t feel like I would be keeping my promise to parents if I was to take part in the debate around schools and funding today. Other Councillors have a different opinion to me and that’s the nature of democracy.

“But I will see this review through having shown no bias whatsoever to any school – that’s what was asked of me and that’s what I’ve done.”

Speaking after the decision Dougie Potter, who is chairman of the Save Milne’s High School campaign, said: “I do understand the point of view from the council to maintain a sustainable education review – but we firmly believe that our case was firm to be removed from that and we will continue to campaign to keep our school open.

“What we don’t want is our kids to be excluded or scattered across the country for no apparent educational benefit.”

While no firm date on the results of the SER have been announced it is thought that considerations will not be concluded until early next year.

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