THE LEADER OF Moray Council has laid the blame for Moray’s chronic difficulties in maintaining the fabric of their school estate firmly at the door of opposition councillors.
In a hard-hitting editorial piece for a national newspaper, the Council Convener Alan Wright insists that the local authority spend on flood alleviation – and SNP and Labour councillors voting against their school reorganisation plans – are both root causes of the problems being faced.
Last week opposition councillors from both the Labour and SNP sides challenged the administration to explain why, with the same funding as other Scottish local authorities, Moray has managed to fall so far behind them in keeping school buildings up to scratch.
Today, Councillor Wright insisted that was a situation that could have been avoided – had opposition councillors not had a last-minute change of heart over plans laid two years ago that would have seen several rural schools under threat of closure.
“How has the situation become so bad in Moray? That is the question trumpeted by one opposition councillor,” the Leader said, adding: “Well, he might care to remember that this council spent £90million on flood defences, most of it during the past 10 years.
“While we were doing that, other councils were attending to and rationalising their school estate, embracing the curriculum for excellence and building super schools.”
Adding that rationalisation of schools was already under way in Moray – and that would continue, but it may also include the closure of schools. He said: “The overall aim must be to provide the best possible education from a curriculum boasting the maximum number of subjects and in the best possible setting.
“I hope the people of Moray can support that view and make their support known in the autumn consultation on the sustainability of Moray Council.”
Labour councillor Sean Morton last week made it clear that he would continue to oppose any moves that included the closure of schools – while the leader of the SNP group has now made his group position clear, one that apparently leaves the door slightly ajar for closures.
Councillor Gary Coull said: “We will not support closing schools unless there is an educational benefit for the children affected. Councillor Wright has yet to prove that shutting schools will deliver that.
“Perhaps this administration should concentrate on what is happening within the buildings rather than trotting out the same mantra of closing schools. Moray is way behind other councils in Scotland who seem to have managed to keep on top of their buildings.”