School group form with community council to fight closure

Findochty – community will fight to retain their school

A joint group formed by the Findochty Community Council and the parent support group for Findochty Primary School has slammed the contents of a consultancy report on Moray’s schools.

In a detailed statement on the report by Caledonian Economics to inform Moray Council’s Sustainable Education Review, the ‘Keep Findochty Primary Open’ group has said their community has been left “angry, disillusioned and frustrated” by the report.

If the recommendations are agreed by a full meeting of Moray Council in November, Findochty Primary will be closed and pupils absorbed into a new ‘Coastal’ Primary School alongside Portknockie and either or both Portessie and Cullen primaries.

That, according to campaigners, is simply not acceptable, with the group insisting that having been encouraged to give their views in consultations they are left frustrated as “Moray Council appear to be fixated on making radical changes to an area where radical change is not required nor welcome”.

[box] “It would appear that this was nothing more than paying lip service to the communities they are duty bound to serve.”[/box] Chair of the Findochty group and local community councillor, Ryan Main, said: “From the outset it was made clear to us that this would be a process in which we were encouraged to engage. Our views, opinions and ideas would be welcomed.

“It would appear, however, that this was nothing more than paying lip service to the communities they are duty bound to serve.

“We were almost convinced that by putting forward our structured opinions and suggestions, that this would feed into the process and that the consultants would begin to understand just how important communities like Findochty consider their primary school to be.

“Instead, it’s more likely that we have been a means to a box being ticked somewhere along a statutory process.”

Mr Main said that it was made clear before and during consultations that the plans to create a new coastal primary school was the least popular option being put forward by the consultants.

He added: “The highest number of ‘not acceptable’ responses was drawn by this idea, and yet it is the plan that is being put forward by Caledonian Economics to Moray Council for ‘serious consideration’.

“Somehow we are supposed to believe from this that our opinions are valued and will be considered.

“Considering that the communities of Cullen and Portessie are around 6.5 miles apart, regardless of where the school is sited is going to lead to travel issues for one or more communities.

“Furthermore, should Moray Council commit to pursue this proposal they will in turn commit the Moray taxpayer to levels of debt and borrowing in order to finance the construction, operation and maintenance of such a school.”

“If we are to believe that this review is truly focussed on providing the best education for our children in Findochty and across Moray, they would do well to listen to the people who truly understand what is best for those children.

“Those people are the parents and members of communities and not a consultant carrying out a largely desktop exercise, whilst failing to listen to the people to whom these decisions matter most.

“In Findochty, as with many other areas, we have a primary school which is stable, sustainable and provides a high standard of education to our children.”

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