Council leader’s defeat a ‘damning indictment’ of school plans

Findochty campaign success

It was victory on a massive scale for thousands of parents throughout Moray who simply refused to accept that the future of their children’s education lay in wholesale schools closures.

Following Monday’s landmark rebellion in which several ruling administration group councillors voted with the opposition that no schools should be closed, we invited one campaigner to express his views.

His story reflects that of many groups in schools throughout Moray…..

Keeping Our School
by Ryan Main of Keep Findochty School Open

“We see this decision as a victory for smaller communities like ours who have fought hard to keep their respective schools.

“The five year moratorium effectively safeguards our school for at least five years and that is welcomed. You could sense that the pressure on the Moray Council administration was growing in intensity over the past few weeks in particular and when coupled with the support for rural schools from opposition parties, this meant a very strong movement was in the driving seat prior to today’s debate and decision in the Council Chambers.

“For around 14 months, we at Keep Findochty School Open have put forward our opinions and concerns, only to see them seemingly fall on deaf ears when the Caledonian Economics report was produced.

[box] “…the fact that Councillor Alexander’s motion to proceed with the SER report as is, which was seconded by Councillor Wright, was defeated by 16 votes to 8 is a rather damning indictment of the report and its content.”[/box] “We then followed this up with the presentation of our formal petition last Wednesday and a number of other communities have also submitted their petitions in recent days.

“It would appear that the weight of public opinion and objection, coupled with the unravelling of the SER report and its arguments therein, have finally got through to the people who matter in terms of voting. This has led to what we would consider to be the common sense decision being reached on Monday.

“In terms of the future, one would question the viability of the SER report as it does not give any sound educational reason upon which to make any change to Findochty Primary School, therefore any move to revive this issue in five years time would likely require the process to start afresh, given the lack of educational substance and that the report will be outdated by that time.

“From hearing the debate unfold within the Council Chambers, it was clear among councillors that Elgin was the absolute priority, yet this was an area which was not looked at by the consultants.

“This ultimately begs the question of what the directive and brief was from Moray Council from the outset. It would appear within the Council Chamber discussions that little blame could be apportioned to the consultants.

“However, the fact that Councillor Alexander’s motion to proceed with the SER report as is, which was seconded by Councillor Wright, was defeated by 16 votes to 8 is a rather damning indictment of the report and its content.

“It has also seen a split within the administration of the Moray Council, leading to the announcement from the Council Leader, Councillor Allan Wright, that he is to step down from the position.

“This is a significant moment for the future of the administration of the Moray Council and it will be interesting to see how the current administration respond to both the decision regarding the SER and how they set about repairing the coalition following the split.

“Nevertheless, we feel a sense of achievement that our objective has been met and that Findochty Primary School shall remain an important and vital part of our children’s future for at least the next five years and hopefully beyond.”

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