Victory for community campaigners as school closure plans defeated

Fochabers/Lhanbyde Councillors accept a petition prior to today’s meeting. (David Robertson)

There will be celebrations throughout Moray following a vote this morning that saw several members of the administration group supporting an opposition motion that no rural schools would close.

In a passionate and sometimes angry debate it became clear early in proceedings that councillors were minded to pay heed to community protests and petitions – and reject recommendations from consultants Caledonian Economics that Milne’s High School be closed alongside several rural primary schools.

At then end of over three hours of debate Councillors voted 16-8 on a five-year moratorium on rural and high school closures – but agreed to look at urgent capacity issues in Elgin and the situation in Forres town.

Ahead of the meeting hundreds of campaigners from Milne’s High School were joined by several from primary schools in a march on the Council HQ, where several petitions were presented to local representatives.

Among them was Fochabers/Lhanbryde councillor Margo Howe, who said: “I believe there was a fundamental flaw in the consultant’s report.

“It is proclaimed to be educationally based yet Milne’s High is one of the best performing schools in terms of attainment in Moray and it was slated for closure.

“We cannot ignore the wider community context, nor can we ignore the legislation within which we have to operate and which provides a presumption against closure of rural schools.

“We need to move on now and look at the many areas of curriculum and school development that are open to us without wielding the axe on our rural schools.”

More images from the march held prior to the meeting can be found on the insideMoray Facebook page while further comment will appear on this site tomorrow morning.

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