The editor voices his views on Moray’s most topical events of the past week…..
Settling down to observe proceedings at another Full Council meeting this week, I fully expected producing another editorial full of damnation on the folly of the ruling Moray Council administration.
By the end of the day-long meeting, wearisome as it was, I had to admit that I was left wondering once again if the party political system brought anything of real value to the council chamber.
The main issue of the day was one of vital importance to every parent of primary age children in Moray or, more importantly perhaps, those with children who are about to embark on their education.
Cutting through all the political double-speak, the issue was fairly simple, in my mind at least.
The Council had, in one way or other, screwed up.
Decisions made (or should that read not made) in the past had led to a situation that, if allowed to simply roll on, would have seen parents unable to place their children in the local primary schools they had a right to attend.
Independent councillors in the administration were adamant that increasing class sizes was not a road they truly wished to follow, but the reality of the situation was such that something radical and, hopefully, temporary was required to drive a path through the current crisis facing our education system.
There was a very long and passionate debate. Points were made or should that read points were being scored. The SNP opposition made it clear they did not wish class sizes to increase, they wished to oppose the motion and put in its place – well, nothing as it happened, they did not have an answer to the problem facing them either.
SNP spokesman Mike Shand made some very telling points about why large class sizes are not good for our primary school children, points that were actually agreed by everyone in the chamber. What he could not address, however, was an alternative – he wanted more time to talk about it.
Trouble is, Moray Council has run out of time for talking on this issue, they had to act now or be further damned for chattering their way into an ever deepening hole.
Councillor George Alexander, the former school teacher from Forres, is certainly no friend of mine, having been responsible in the past for some reprehensible and ill-informed statements about my own political ambitions or activities.
Yet I found myself nodding in agreement as he made his own passionate plea to the SNP to back off on this issue, to accept that unity was required if Moray was to traverse a painful path through the teacher recruitment crisis.
In the end and with the help of pretty much all bar the SNP councillors, the move was carried, class sizes will increase for a two-year period and allow breathing space, allow time to recruit the teachers so desperately needed in Moray.
What we all now hope is that promises made will this time be kept, that the measure really is a temporary one and class sizes will be reduced in two years’ time if not before.
We can also all hold on to this forlorn hope that party political point scoring will not be allowed to get in the way of that happening.